Georgia’s governor, Republican leaders of other struggling states push Congress for aid

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the GOP governors of almost two-dozen other states sent Congressional leaders a letter Monday asking for federal block grants to help mitigate the damage the coronavirus has done to state finances and to help pay for treatment.

Kemp asked President Trump for federal aid last week and his staff said he rounded up signatures for the letter to Congress.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that the state of Georgia is facing a major potential shortfall this fiscal year as businesses close, Georgians lose jobs and economic activity in general slows dramatically in response to the virus. The decline in economic activity will likely mean a huge drop in tax revenue the state needs to fund everything from schools to public health care, prisons and public safety.

In a letter to Congressional leaders, the governors said, “we need direct assistance from Congress. Injecting states with resources would give governors the ability to respond to the unique needs of each state with the speed and flexibility that is required to respond to this monumental challenge.

“COVID-19 has put an unprecedented burden on state governments,” the letter said. “States are spending heavily on the response to the virus at a time when many are at the end of their budget year and revenues are down because of the limited economic activity.

“A block grant to each state would provide the certainty we need to continue providing critical services at a high level when they are needed more than ever. Governors have been on the front lines of this fight since the beginning, and states have taken the brunt of the impact. We urge you to give us the necessary resources to combat this complex issue. “

Congress has been considering whether to include state grants in its coronavirus relief package.

There is precedent for such federal aid. Georgia’s budgets were propped up with billions of dollars in federal funding during the Great Recession and immediate aftermath.