LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles elected officials are welcoming passage of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package, 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 Wednesday.
"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.''
During his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday, Garcetti added that the legislation accomplishes more than relief from COVID-19.
"It is also the most progressive piece of legislation, one of the boldest things we've seen in this country since the Great Depression and FDR,'' he said.
Controller Ron Galperin recommended the city use the funding to address the budget deficit, which Garcetti noted, during his COVID-19 briefing, is the plan.
"During this time, we took all of our savings account, our reserve fund, and spent it down so that we could protect you. We took out our credit card and starting buying things on credit like (personal protective equipment) and other things so that our hospital workers would be protected,'' he said.
"Now with this money, we can put that money back into the savings account, we can pay off the credit card and any cuts that we've made in critical services we can restore.''
Garcetti noted that the city's depleted reserve fund puts it in a dangerous place, and that he doesn't want his successor or the people of Los Angeles to be saddled with debt.
"That money has to go first and foremost to stabilizing our finances, replenishing our reserve fund, paying off the credit card that we have,'' he said.
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.''