MANCHESTER, N.H. and WASHINGTON – Several of Manchester’s political leaders gathered in a pair of press conferences on Thursday highlighting the urgent need for additional COVID-19 stimulus funding in the near future.
New Hampshire Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig joined with Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and municipal employees from Manchester and Nashua to stress the hardships faced by New Hampshire’s cities due to the pandemic.
Soucy recalled her action against cuts to education and small business support in Concord, but noted that without additional support that cities will have to face cuts in fire departments, police departments, libraries, schools and other services due to the revenue shortfall for municipalities that has come as a result of the pandemic.
“The past year has brought about unprecedented challenges to states, cities, counties and towns across the country,” said Soucy. “The need for federal aid has never been higher as we continue to navigate these difficult circumstances.”
Craig noted the impact of the virus on exacerbating homelessness in the city, as well as additional difficulties faced in crafting a municipal budget and economic hardships faced by Manchester residents due to the pandemic.
She urged members of Congress who believe aid is not needed or believe that it is a partisan issue to reconsider.
Craig later joined Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) and several heads of Manchester city departments to reiterate the need for direct and flexible funding for New Hampshire’s towns and cities from Washington.
Pappas said he believes a new stimulus bill that could bring up to $1.5 billion for New Hampshire could reach President Biden’s desk by mid-march, adding that he and his colleagues have seen broad support from across the country even if that support may not translate to overwhelming support in Congress.
Pappas added that he has heard stories of budget difficulties from municipal leaders across the state and a stimulus bill passing the Senate without municipal aid would be a non-starter.
He added that while some money from the stimulus bill would go directly to states, he also believed that unlike the CARES Act, some of the money should go to county and municipal governments, citing the expertise of Manchester’s city department leaders assembled with Craig.
“This group right here knows how to spend this money to benefit the people of Manchester better than people in Washington do,” he said.