Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman
Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined a conference call with the County Commissioners Association of Ohio to discuss response efforts to the coronavirus health crisis and its economic impact, and highlighted his efforts with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to secure additional funding for state and local governments impacted by this pandemic.

The County Commissioners Association of Ohio includes members from counties across Ohio. This is the latest in a series of conference calls Portman is hosting with outside stakeholders, such as employers, hospitals and health care providers, small business owners, workers and more.

“I appreciated the opportunity to speak with county commissioners from across Ohio this morning to get their insights and concerns about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic," Portman said.

"Counties across Ohio have been seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as unemployment has skyrocketed and tax revenue has declined. The initial CARES Act rescue package included an unprecedented $150 billion to help state and local governments, with Ohio having just received the initial $2.2 billion of the $4.5 billion it has been allocated. The CARES Act also expanded unemployment insurance to provide federal reimbursement for local government employees who have been furloughed, provided support to individuals and families through direct payments from the IRS, and is helping small businesses in our communities through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is providing forgivable loans for small businesses to cover payroll and rent.

“We discussed how the funding package the Senate passed yesterday included additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, our health providers, and more widespread testing. In addition, I told Ohio’s county commissioners about several important policy changes that are still needed as additional coronavirus response legislation is considered. Their primary concern, and arguably one of the biggest policy priorities left out of the package that passed the Senate yesterday, is the need for robust and flexible funding for state and local governments that's consistent with the principles I laid out with Senator Brown in our letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.

"I discussed that letter with the commissioners on today's call, where I made it clear that we need to do more to help state and local governments affected by this crisis and that the next package should provide additional assistance. I also explained that I believe local and county governments should be granted increased flexibility on how they can use the funds previously approved in the CARES Act, including as replacement for lost revenue. Many of Ohio’s local governments rely on local income and sales taxes for their budgets and their revenues have declined due to increased unemployment. Our local governments should be able to use the funds allotted to them to replace funding for our first responders, police, and fire departments. I will share their concerns with my colleagues as we continue to work to ensure that individuals, families, and local governments can stay afloat during this public health emergency so we can get our economy back to full strength as soon as the crisis subsides.”