Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan took his argument for billions more in aid to state governments to the White House on Monday, making a pitch to Vice President Mike Pence during a conference call.
“The COVID-19 response is resulting in catastrophic damage to state economies, and fiscal assistance is critical now so that we can continue to lead this fight,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement issued after a conference call between the White House and the nation’s governors.
Hogan said he asked Trump administration officials to help break a “logjam” in the Senate that he says is holding up aid to the states.
Hogan is chairman of the National Governors Association. Over the weekend, Hogan and the association vice chairman, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a joint statement calling on the federal government to send more cash to the states.
State governments are grappling with increased expenses for their response to the coronavirus pandemic at the same time that they’re taking in drastically less money in taxes, as people have been thrown out of work and aren’t spending as much.
One worst-case scenario from Maryland’s comptroller predicted the state could lose up to $2.8 billion in tax revenue through the end of June, if the current stay-at-home order remains in place that long.
Hogan put a freeze on non-essential hiring and discretionary purchases not related to the coronavirus. He also directed his staff to develop a list of possible budget cuts.
States will receive billions from the last federal stimulus bill that passed Congress, but that is dedicated for specific expenses and programs — not to plug holes in state budgets.
“Without sufficient federal relief, states will have to confront the prospect of significant reductions to essential services, which will in turn devastate the economic recovery and our efforts to get people back to work,” Hogan said in his statement Monday.
Speaking later on CNN, Hogan said he thought the administration was “generally” supportive of getting more aid to the states. Hogan told host Anderson Cooper that he also has spoken to President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about his request.
Asked for comment, the White House released a statement attributed to a coronavirus task force spokesman that said: "We look forward to further discussions with governors on how we can continue to work together on the locally executed, state managed, and federally supported response efforts.”