Michigan Municipal League Board President Bill Wild, mayor of Westland, and other board members were actively fighting on behalf of Michigan communities in recent days on a number of fronts. There was so much going on that we’ve decided to post this blog detailing it all.
Earlier today, Mayor Wild met with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen about the need for a new federal stimulus package that provides direct, flexible support for communities battling COVID-19 on the frontlines. While this meeting that wasn’t recorded, we are able to share on social media how successful the League Board President Wild felt the meeting was. Here’s how Mayor Wild summarized the meeting for us:
“I think today’s meeting was very productive and remarkable in the Secretary’s understanding of the effect the pandemic has had on Local Government and the importance of allowing flexibility in the utilization of this funding.
I left feeling that the Administration was fully committed to moving this COVID-relief funding to communities very quickly and was encouraged that the line of communication will remain open to the White House post pandemic as we work to reopen our local economies, get Americans back to work and begin to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.”
The League is very appreciative of Mayor Wild’s work on our members’ behalf in trying to secure a COVID-related stimulus package that provides direct, flexible funding to local governments of all sizes from around the nation.
The meeting between Secretary Yellen, Mayor Wild and several other city leaders was requested by the White House through the National League of Cities. The NLC reserved a spot for the MML and we secured Mayor Wild’s participation. Other officials on the call included Council Member Kathy Maness, Lexington, SC, NLC President; Mayor Vince Williams, Union City, GA, NLC First Vice President; Irma Esparza Diggs, of NLC; Mayor Nic Hunter, Lake Charles, LA; Mayor Walter Eccard, Shallotte, N.C.; Mayor Patricia Branson, Kodiak, AK; and Mayor Charlene Lovett, Claremont, N.H.
Mayor Wild represented not just Michigan on the call, but the entire Midwest. The League provided Mayor Wild with talking points that he was able to share with Secretary Yellen. The current $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package being supported by President Biden includes a $350 billion emergency aid reconciliation package that provides flexible aid for our states, cities, counties, tribes, and territories. This package is on track to be approved in Congress, but the strong advocacy effort by the League and the NLC to garner support continues.
Helping Our Members in Various Ways
But Thursday’s meeting wasn’t the only way Mayor Wild and other MML board members were fighting for our membership in recent days.
On Sunday, both Mayor Wild and League Board Vice President and Pontiac Mayor Deirdre Waterman appeared on the Michigan Matters news program on CBS Detroit. You can watch it here.
They were joined by fellow mayors Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills and James Fouts of Warren to talk about the impact of COVID-19 on their communities.
Anything League members can do, such as media interviews like this one, to raise awareness over the need of direct funding for our communities battling the coronavirus is vital in getting the next stimulus package across the finish line.
Organizational Sign-On Letter Still Open
And here’s another way League members can help. As NLC and the MML prepares for the COVID Relief Package to head to the Senate – the coalition we are working with has reopened the sign-on letter previously distributed. Over 320 groups have already signed!
If you are a member of an organization that supports this effort, please have the organization’s representative sign the letter. If you work with other groups who might want to sign, we’d love to have them as well.
As a reminder, the NLC is not seeking individual government entities to sign this letter at this time – only organizations.
The MML and many of our supporters also joined in the NLC’s TwitterStorm event today. In this social media campaign, people were encouraged to use the hashtags #AmericaRescuePlan and #AmericanRescuePlan to keep the pressure on federal lawmakers to pass the new stimulus plan. Here are some of the Tweets by the NLC and shared by the League and our staff:
- Since the onset of #COVID19, frontline heroes have worked to keep us healthy and safe. Join us in supporting the #AmericanRescuePlan for the 93,000 first responders nationwide as we continue to move America’s communities forward.
- Thank you Secretary @JanetYellen for taking the time today to connect with NLC! We look forward to continue to work alongside you & @USTreasury to build intergovernmental partnership, address residents’ critical needs & help communities respond, recover & rebuild #LeadingTogether
- It is essential that the House passes this relief package this week so that the Senate to do the same. Tweet your Representative TODAY and let them know that their vote for the #AmericanRescuePlan will support our communities and drive the economy.
- Municipalities face a more dire situation than states in the pandemic recovery. Although state and local relief have been grouped together in a recovery bill, the true impact of the pandemic varies between the local and state level. #AmericanRescuePlan
Live with the League
But wait, there’s more! Mayor Wild’s work also included joining our MML team on Live with the League conversation that took place Monday. He talked about his work in advocating for the new federal stimulus package that provides direct flexible funding for communities. Mayor Wild was joined by Mike Wallace of the National League of Cities and our Lansing team. It was a great discussion so please check it out here in case you missed it.
Mayor Gawron Testifies
This was also a busy this week on our behalf for Muskegon Mayor and MML Board Member Stephen Gawron. Mayor Gawron helped us out recently by testifying in a state House committee in support of Governor Whitmer’s budget proposal that called for $70 million to assist cities that have a local income tax.
Muskegon is among 24 Michigan cities that collect a local income tax and these communities are facing substantial revenue losses due to COVID-19. Mayor Gawron explained the impact on his city and why this is an important issue to be addressed in the upcoming state budget.
The mayor was also active on social media on this topic tweeting this:
Thank you @gregvanwoerkom and @RepSabo92 for the opportunity to testify as Mayor @cityofmuskegon advocating for aid and relief for Michigan’s 24 income tax communities so we can serve our neighbors. @WatchMuskegon
Thank you Mayor Gawron!
Other Lansing Testimony
In addition to having members testify, our League staff also testified in Lansing in recent days. Chris Hackbarth testified this Wednesday before House Communications and Technology committee about proposed cuts to broadband and the personal property tax. John LaMacchia testified last week in front of the House Transportation Committee on speed limits. John spoke in support of HB 4014, which provides decision-making power to #Michigan communities in setting speed limits. For more information on the bill go here: http://bit.ly/37lELlQ.
Whew! A busy many days!! Let’s keep the pressure on to help our communities get state and federal COVID support.