What to Know
- The federal stimulus package will provide LA with $1.35 billion amid a budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- LA is facing a $550 million revenue shortfall.
- The city's revenue losses will likely continue for at least a few more months.
Los Angeles elected officials welcomed the passage of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package Wednesday, which will provide the city with $1.35 billion amid a budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The American Rescue Plan is a watershed moment in the life of our nation and our response to COVID-19 -- with historic investments in vaccine distribution, relief for working families, jobs for frontline workers, and support for children, students, parents, small businesses, and tenants," Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
"We fought long and hard for this landmark legislation, and thanks to leadership from President Biden and Congress, our state and local governments are set to receive critical aid in the months ahead. For Los Angeles, that translates into preserving vital services threatened by our pandemic-driven budget crisis; protecting jobs jeopardized by this public health emergency; and placing us on stronger financial footing to ensure equity in our vaccination efforts and lift up our most vulnerable neighbors."
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Controller Ron Galperin recommended the city use the funding to address the budget deficit. On March 1, Galperin reported that the city is facing a $550 million revenue shortfall. He noted that the city's revenue losses will likely continue for at least a few more months.
"This bill is monumentally important for the people of Los Angeles. Not only will Angelenos receive much-needed stimulus checks to help them get by, but the city will get at least $1.35 billion in relief funds, enabling us to transform a very dire financial situation into a much better one, maintain services and jumpstart our economy," Galperin said.
"It should be our priority to ensure that neighborhood services families rely on don't get cut or reduced, and to fully restore any that have suffered, especially in historically underserved communities. Funding should also be used to replenish the city's reserves, which have helped us get through the pandemic this past year. What remains should fund one-time programs and projects that create good local jobs in disadvantaged communities, enhance equity and hasten economic recovery citywide," Galperin added.
The American Rescue Plan passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday and will next go to President Joe Biden for his signature.
City Council President Nury Martinez said that by passing the bill, the federal government "has finally realized this is the framework we need to lift up families and help them through this pandemic. This package acknowledges what the city of Los Angeles already knew. Working families need direct assistance to make it through this pandemic and cities need to be rewarded during these dire economic times for providing that assistance."
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, hailed the bill following the House's vote, tweeting: "$1,400 relief checks. Extended unemployment benefits. Funding to increase vaccinations, keep people in their homes, reopen schools, and cut child poverty in half. Help is on the way."
Prior to the vote, Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-San Pedro, tweeted: "Ready to vote 'yes' on the American Rescue Plan and send relief to those in my district struggling from the impacts of the pandemic. The historic legislation meets the moment. It will save lives, jobs, help re-open schools safely and more."
The White House tweeted that the plan is "a historic legislative package that will turn the page on this pandemic, deliver direct relief to Americans, and jumpstart our economy."
The bill passed the U.S. House by a vote of 220 to 211 after the Senate approved it on Saturday.
A handful of community groups and unions held a news conference Wednesday to demand that the city equitably distribute the COVID-19 recovery funding. Community Coalition, InnerCity Struggle, SEIU 2015 -- a union representing California's long term caregivers -- and Brotherhood Crusade submitted their proposal to the mayor and L.A. City Council members.
"We stand firmly in our belief that the bulk of the money needs to restore and build back better the hardest hit communities in our city," said Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, executive vice president of Community Coalition.
"We're calling on the city to dedicate $100 million to provide two years of guaranteed basic income of at least $1,500 a month to families in highest need areas."
She cited the pilot program that Councilman Curren Price is organizing through funding diverted from the police department's budget.
"Families are suffering and guaranteed income is a concrete strategy to give families the breathing space that they need to have a real opportunity to stabilize their situation so that they can keep food on their tables, access quality childcare, stay housed and get job training or find new employment opportunities, especially in the case of women of color who have been especially hit hard," Montes-Rodriguez said.
Maria Brenes, executive director of InnerCity Struggle, said the city should invest $100 million in "comprehensive and holistic programs" for the city's highest need youth.
"We're proposing strategies that ensure that Black and Brown youth are provided the tools to reach their goals," she said.
April Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015, said the proposal is about not letting things go back to the status quo.
"What we are calling on is for these funds to be used to not have us go back to what we know was never good enough for so many in our communities before. Our community needs real investment, real targeted investment, and what we are offering is a framework to policymakers in the city to use these funds in a way that invests so that we can 'build back better,' if I can adopt a phrase from President Biden."