Marty Walsh, 50 municipal leaders push Massachusetts lawmakers for more coronavirus economic aid

With crucial federal funding tied up in Washington, a group of more than 50 Massachusetts municipal leaders spearheaded by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh is calling on state lawmakers to pass more aid for businesses and workers struggling to make ends meet as the pandemic drags on.
“Boston along with other cities and towns across the state continue to find new and creative ways to support our small businesses, which have faced unprecedented challenges this year,” Walsh said in a statement. “But we need our state and federal partners to leverage all the tools at their disposal to further our local efforts.”
Walsh and 52 other officials — including mayors, town managers and the executive directors of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Massachusetts Municipal Association — sent a letter this week to Beacon Hill leaders urging them to take action.
The municipal officials called on House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka and the chairmen of the House and Senate Ways and Means committees to pass an economic development bond bill currently in conference committee. And they urged the Legislature to pass the supplemental budget Gov. Charlie Baker filed last week for fiscal year 2021 that includes $49 million in support for small businesses.
The mayors and town managers also implored state lawmakers to get “creative” in finding other ways to aid struggling businesses and their employees. They pushed in particular for more help for restaurants — 3,400 never reopened after pandemic-induced closures in the spring and more of which continue to shut down.
“Our restaurants and small businesses are a big part of the vibrancy of our city, providing much-needed jobs and revenues to our local economy” Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll said in a press release. “These small business owners are not anonymous chains, but rather hardworking neighbors and friends who have been doing all they can to stay afloat in the midst of a public health crisis. They need our help now because every day that goes by without relief will mean more business closures.”
The joint call for more economic aid come less than a week after Massachusetts rolled back to the Phase 3, Step 1 of reopening. And it comes after Arlington, Boston, Brockton, Lynn, Newton, Somerville and Winthrop took a further step back to Phase 2, Step 2 on Wednesday.
Municipal leaders have repeatedly said they need more financial help to balance out the effects of the restrictions they say are necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus. And with CARES Act funding already stretched thin and key unemployment programs on the line as stimulus talks drag on in Washington, local officials are growing increasingly worried.
“There are businesses not just in Brockton but throughout the commonwealth that are just dying off,” Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan told the Herald this week. “We need anything and everything that helps them stay afloat.”

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