Originally written for ELGLs Morning Buzz
By all accounts, 2020 was a rough year for local governments, their employees and service providers. Although it spurred a lot of innovation, many local governments found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, faced with shrinking budgets and staff, while their residents needed more services, more information and higher engagement. Even legislation, like the CARES Act, which provided a breath of fresh air to some struggling local governments, favored mostly larger and stronger communities over small ones, leaving smaller jurisdictions to hope for county and state support.
But there’s good news! It seems that 2021 is shaping up to be a very different year, and not only because vaccinations are underway. A new administration is here, and it seems that the Biden Team is cognizant of the crucial role that local governments have to play in healing the Nation and getting people, business, and infrastructure better in order to jump start the economy.
Throughout his campaign, Biden already showed support towards preparing cities for the future, promising to back up innovation and “modern, sustainable infrastructure,” and as it seems, he’s certainly making sure investments are done in a smart way by adding a formidable team of local government leaders to help this effort.
Now, to top it all off, Biden is putting his money where his mouth is – the Biden administration is pushing for a 350$ billion package to assist state, local, and territorial governments, as well as 20$ billion for public transit. This is huge. The aid includes everything from budgetary relief where income has been hit due to the pandemic, to investments in technology and infrastructure.
To sum all this up, I feel very strongly that local governments, despite mounting challenges from the enduring pandemic and slowing economy, are finally at a point in time where they can look at the future with positivity and hope. This past year has been humbling, to say the least, as we’ve watched and done our best to support the 200 city and county partners we work with face, head-on, some of the greatest challenges local governments have faced in the past fifty years. This new administration, just a few hours old, has shown some “good omens” that cause me to believe that in 2021 and beyond, the reality for local governments will change for the better aided by policy and support.
Happy 2021 everyone, and may it be a far better year for us all!