WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Greg Stanton pushed for several funding priorities to benefit Arizonans that were included in Congress’s historic economic relief bill, which unanimously passed the House earlier today.
Support for Local Government
Stanton fought to ensure that cities would be able to directly access federal resources to address the coronavirus pandemic. Noting that city officials are on the forefront of tackling the coronavirus crisis, Stanton asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get more resources to cities as quickly as possible.
Through a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund, state and local governments will receive emergency funding to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that Arizona will receive $2.82 billion. Additionally, the CDC will send emergency funding to local communities through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which includes funds for laboratory testing and infection control. Arizona will receive $12.4 million to help address these critical public health needs at the state and local level.
Support for Higher Education Institutions
Stanton garnered support from other Arizona congressional delegation members to press leaders of the Committee on Appropriations to provide critical support to higher education institutions. Arizona State University, which is in Stanton’s district, as well as the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University are already facing significant financial losses following emergency closures and efforts to move all students to online courses. Stanton requested that funds be provided to cover expenses for technology and hardware to deliver online courses, to make up for lost revenue, and to continue to take additional public health prevention measures on campuses.
Today’s bill includes $14.2 billion in emergency relief for institutions of higher education to prevent and respond to the coronavirus.
Support for Arizona Airports
Stanton asked the chairs of both the Appropriations and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees to ensure that assistance gets to Arizona’s airports through the Airport Improvement Program. He noted that boardings at Phoenix Sky Harbor are already down 50 percent compared to this time last year. This request, he distinguished, is separate from support for the airlines, which would not reach airports to support expenses such as worker paychecks and rent.
The bill includes $10 billion in grants to support airports including Phoenix Sky Harbor and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway.
Student Loan Relief
The relief packaged passed today included a bill Stanton cosponsored, H.R. 1043, to create a new tax benefit for student loan borrowers whose employers help them pay off their debt. This measure will allow companies to pay up to $5,250 of an employee’s student loan payments each year on a tax-free basis. The measure is intended to encourage employers to create student loan repayment programs, passing off potential savings to borrowers so that they can put that money back into the local economy.
2020 Election Security and Safety
Stanton worked with state officials and House leaders to ensure that the coronavirus wouldn’t put the 2020 election at risk. The bill included nearly $8 million to support Arizona’s elections, funding which will be used to expand vote by mail and early vote options, boost online registration, add vote centers and increase safety at poll sites for volunteers and poll workers.