Congressman Neguse writes bill to bring $250 billion in aid to small communities that were left out of the CARES Act
DILLON — On Tuesday, April 7, members of the U.S. House of Representatives — including Rep. Joe Neguse, of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District — introduced the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, which aims to provide $250 billion for communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the CARES Act was signed into law March 27, it excludes communities with populations under 500,000 from receiving direct support. Those smaller communities can receive stimulus aid only from the state.
“In my view, that model is just not reflective of the realities on the ground in terms of the real significant costs that the counties and cities have been incurring,” Neguse said. “We’ve been hard at work the last 10 days or so since the bill’s passage working on an alternative proposal for this next bill so that we can make sure that Summit County and the other counties that I represent get their fair share.”
The proposed bill, which was originally written by Neguse, seeks to target smaller communities like Summit County and Eagle County as well as midsized municipalities like Boulder. In Summit County, funding from the bill is proposed to be given to the town and county governments. Neguse said towns and counties would be given broad scope on using the funds. How much funding each town is given depends on a population formula, but there is no minimum population that a community must have to receive funding.
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“It ensures that every community is able to ultimately access these critical federal resources because … we know that every community is making expenditures amidst this public health crisis,” Neguse said.
He explained that while local governments are still paying for critical resources like law enforcement as well as attempting to help the community by providing additional resources, they also are losing revenue from sales taxes. The bill is intended to address revenue shortfalls of local governments and to directly reimburse their expenditures that have been put in place to address community needs amid the pandemic.
Since Tuesday, Neguse said the bill has gained 108 co-sponsors. He said it is the most co-sponsors he has gotten on a bill within that timeframe. On Monday, Republican Sen. Scott Tipton signed on.
Neguse said he is pushing to have the bill included as part of the next stimulus package.
“In terms of where we go from here, time will tell,” Neguse said. “But we’re going to keep working at it, and we’ll continue to push because the cities and the counties and our state are counting on us to do that.”
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