GOP Sen. Martha McSally said she wouldn't commit to backing additional financial aid to "mismanaged" municipalities, saying Arizona taxpayers will be viewed as "cash cows" for coronavirus relief.
"This is not the time for us in Arizona and you in Surprise to be paying for mismanagement in Chicago," McSally said during a digital town hall. "That's what, actually, the left is advocating for right now. What we're advocating for is we provide specific relief."
A spokeswoman for McSally's office told The Arizona Republic that the Senator's comments were not meant to be public.
GOP Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona said she won't commit to additional coronavirus relief funds to cities and states looking for financial support amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that "blue" cities and states look at taxpayers as a "cash cow" for them.
McSally made the comment, first reported by the AZ Mirror, during an hour-long virtual town hall at the end of April hosted by the mayor of Surprise, Arizona, Skip Hall, The Arizona Republic reported.
"I'm just going to be frank with you guys, OK," she said during the event. "This is not the time for states and cities — unlike Arizona, unlike Surprise — who have mismanaged their budgets over the course of many decades, for them to use this as an opportunity to see you, as a taxpayer in Arizona, as a cash cow for them in whatever city you want to talk about, whether it's Chicago or New York or whatever."
"This is not the time for us in Arizona and you in Surprise to be paying for mismanagement in Chicago," McSally continued. "That's what, actually, the left is advocating for right now. What we're advocating for is we provide specific relief."
A spokeswoman for McSally's office told The Republic that the senator's comments were not meant to be public.
She previously declined to comment on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's suggestion that states and cities go bankrupt rather than get money for the federal government to help financial hardship during the pandemic.
McConnell's office previously called the bailout a "blue state bailout," and he argued in a radio interview that, "There's not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle chafed at these remarks. GOP Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan saying the last thing people need during this crisis is cuts to services.
McConnell recently said he's "open" to more funding.
Under the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March, $150 billion was allocated to municipalities, but only cities with a population of 500,000 or more would receive money directly, leaving smaller cities, including those in Arizona, having to wait for aid to be dolled out by the state.
In a written statement to The Republic, McSally said she was working to ensure Arizona cities would receive the previously-mandated aid. She had previously criticized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for the distribution path, saying it "unjustly narrowed" the accessibility of the aid for smaller governments.
"At the federal level, I'm fighting for maximum flexibility of resources so essential services like first-responders are also supported," McSally wrote to The Republic. "This is a top priority of mine, and I'll continue to be in close communication with our mayors and local elected officials as we work to get them support during this crisis."
Cities and states are being hit financially during the pandemic and unlike the federal government cannot have a deficit and may turn to slashing payroll and programs to balance the budget.
Economist Paul Krugman previously told Business Insider that he worried that if local governments did not get financial help, there could be another wave of job loss as cities and states go bankrupt and lay off public officials.
"State and local governments really need a lot of help, and there's not remotely enough money in there," Krugman told Business Insider's Sara Silverstein. "In a way, I think this crisis is going to be prolonged even once the pandemic subsides by the fact that we're going to have state and local governments that are in desperate financial constraints."
In mid-April, The Washington Post reported that "More than 2,100 US cities are anticipating major budget shortfalls this year and many are planning to slash programs and cut staff in response."
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