A coronavirus lifeline for state and city governments

Washington, D.C. The former mayors of Salt Lake City and Charlotte are championing a new policy initiative to put state and city governments in a position to lead our economic and health recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Recovery for Climate, Health and Economic Stability (ARCHES) is a new policy – developed by Robert Perkowitz, president of ecoAmerica, and Climate Advisers – that will help state and city governments lead local recovery efforts by providing them billions in long-term recovery funds.

State and city governments could face a budget shortfall of up to $555 billion  in the wake of the coronavirus. ARCHES seeks to head off looming economic and health disasters within local communities by utilizing a carbon price to fortify state and city government budgets. To date, Congress’ support for state and city governments has been insufficient to meet the current crisis. ARCHES gives Congress a new way to support local governments’ work to help their communities recover.

The ARCHES proposal provides state and city governments with around $1.72 trillion in funds over ten years to support their long-term recovery. By helping local officials stabilize their budgets and empowering them to develop local solutions for local challenges, ARCHES would ensure recovery efforts put main street first.

The former mayors of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski, and Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, writing in the U.S. News and World Report, said that the emergency response measures passed by Congress this Spring have helped but do not suffice.

“Our national leaders need to work together to provide steady, lasting financial support to communities across the land. During the financial crisis a decade ago, Washington bailed out bankers and auto companies but left main street to wither. Some communities have yet to fully recover. We can’t let that happen again. Unfortunately, it will take years to rebuild our economy, so we need a long-term solution. That is why we support a new Federal policy proposal called ARCHES,” they said.

“Americans have more trust in their local leaders than Washington, D.C. to fix problems in their communities. ARCHES gives people the power to decide how their hometown responds to these multiple crises, at a level they never had in 2008 and helps solve our climate crisis as well,” said Bob Perkowitz, President of ecoAmerica.

The recovery from the current economic toll of the coronavirus will take the U.S. years to recover from, and state and city governments must be central to the effort.  They are responsible for nearly 11 percent of U.S. GDP and employ more workers than the entire manufacturing sector. But even before the coronavirus struck the nation, some local budgets had still not reached pre- 2008 recession levels. And now, at a time when local governments are spending more on Medicaid than ever before, they also face the challenge of rebuilding local health infrastructure where 1.4 million jobs have been lost.

“ARCHES is what our country needs to bridge from today’s challenges to tomorrow’s inclusive prosperity. Our security depends on addressing the climate, health and economic crises comprehensively. This is best done through a sustained partnership between national and local governments. We must seize the opportunity we have now to rebuild in ways that make our nation more prosperous, resilient and just. ,” said Biskupski and Roberts.

ARCHES provides its funding through an innovative carbon pollution price that distributes 75% of revenue to cities and states for local needs in the form of block grants. This ensures the vital engines of economic growth within state and local governments do not suffer the same lack of investment experienced in 2008. The Pew Research Center found that 73% of all Americans and 55% of Republicans support requiring companies to pay for climate pollution. With ARCHES, Congress can respond to the growing public demand for decisive climate action, and also empower local governments to create tailored solutions for their communities’ recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

For more information please contact:

Kyle Saukas, Sr. Communications Associate