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Arizona Communities Would Get Direct Coronavirus Relief Under Sinema-Backed Bipartisan Bill
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23 May 2020   Hannah Hurley

Bipartisan SMART Act increases coronavirus relief for states, local communities, and Tribal governments.

Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema co-sponsored the bipartisan SMART Act—legislation providing $500 billion in coronavirus relief to state, local, and Tribal governments, ensuring Arizona communities have the flexibility to use funding for budget support, and allocating direct assistance to smaller Arizona cities and towns.

“Every day I hear from Arizona mayors and county leaders on the front lines of this crisis about what they need to keep Arizonans safe and economically secure. Ensuring Arizona communities and Tribal governments receive direct assistance and have flexibility to use that funding for local budget support will save Arizona jobs and keep our counties and cities strong and thriving,” said Sinema.

“The League of Arizona Cities and Towns applauds Senator Sinema for joining this bipartisan effort to provide realistic, but meaningful, direct relief to cities and towns. As the economic drivers of the state and the employers of critical frontline workers, we are thankful as this bill represents a big step in the right direction to get budget support to states and local governments,” said Christian Price, President of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns and Mayor of the City of Maricopa.

The Sinema-backed SMART Act, introduced by Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (La.) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), provides $500 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments in order to avoid massive layoffs, steep tax hikes, and a breakdown of essential services due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The bill includes a $16 billion set-aside for Tribal governments, and the remaining funding is allocated to states through three equally divided tranches based on (1) Population Size; (2) Infection Rates; and (3) Revenue Losses. Local governments are allocated a total of 1/3 of the total funds for the state, equally divided between municipalities and counties. The bill also retroactively allows the state, local, and tribal funds appropriated in the CARES Act to be used to support budget shortfalls.

Sinema has been a champion for additional funding for Arizona’s cities and towns, for that funding to be usable budget support, and for direct payments for Arizona communities. Sinema has called on Senate leadership to ensure state and local support be included in the next coronavirus relief package. Additionally, Sinema has called on the state of Arizona to immediately release the $2 billion in CARES Act funding to smaller communities in Arizona. Congress appropriated that money for state and local governments, and Kyrsten expects the state government to distribute to smaller communities.

Sinema has been holding weekly calls with Arizona mayors and county leaders whose economies are suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak. Sinema has also added a resources page to her website, for Arizonans looking for the latest information on coronavirus.