Renewed federal aid urged by Colorado Democrats, labor groups

    BRIEF

    Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez addressed the Democratic National Convention Aug. 18, 2020. (Courtesy Democratic National Convention)

    Joined by Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, Colorado Democrats and union leaders on Wednesday warned of an urgent need for more federal relief as workers and local governments across the state continue to suffer economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

    “Local governments and state governments desperately need the help, and the suffering is going to continue until they get it,” Perez told reporters on a Sept. 9 press call. He slammed a $500 billion aid package introduced this week by Senate Republicans as “anemic,” calling it a cynical attempt to provide cover for GOP incumbents like Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.

    “It’s been now three and a half months since the Democrats passed (a) bill in the House,” he added. “Where the hell were you three and a half months ago? We knew this was coming.”

    Roughly 1 million jobs in local government have been lost since the onset of the pandemic, according to federal data, as plummeting tax revenues forced cities and counties to make deep cuts to their payroll. Josette Jaramillo, a Pueblo social worker and president of the Colorado AFL-CIO, which represents many public-sector employees throughout the state, said that aid to local governments goes hand-in-hand with supporting workers.

    State Rep. Tom Sullivan represents the 37th district in the Colorado Legislature. (leg.colorado.gov)

    “Making sure that our counties and our local governments are funded — as well as (that) the workers who are working the front lines are also taken care of with hazard pay — has been at the top of our priority list,” Jaramillo said.

    State Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Democrat from Aurora and a former postal worker, said that a lack of federal relief funds threatens to lead to further cuts and uncertainty as governments begin to finalize their budgets for 2021.

    “Not only at the state level — that starts to shift its way down onto the municipal levels,” Sullivan said. “City councils, fire districts, police districts, they need to know that that money’s coming so they can make their plans going into next year. … We need the federal government to get working and do what they should have been doing from day one. It didn’t have to be like this.”