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As Congress Wrestles With Pandemic Stimulus, Maine Officials Clamor For State, Municipal Aid

As Congress struggles with another pandemic economic stimulus package, Maine union leaders, along with state and local government officials, are urging that relief be included for cities and towns.

At an online press briefing, Gov. Janet Mills warned of the significant loss of state revenues from the pandemic. Union leaders said millions of jobs are at stake across the country, and Augusta City Manager Bill Bridgeo described the layoffs his city has had to make as local revenues have shrunk.

“We had to take steps to eliminate almost, a little more than 10 percent of the city’s workforce. We have got about 240 employees at any given time,” he said.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine said he can’t understand how some of his Senate colleagues are opposed to local and state aid.

“The politicians who are opposing this aid for states and municipalities are the ones who are defunding police. That’s a fact,” he said.

Congress is discussing several versions of a stimulus, including aid for states and local governments, but so far, the majority of Senate Republicans have balked at additional aid. Some state and local funding was previously included in the CARES Act, but much of it has already been used within the limitations set by Congress.