State CPA society CEOs call for federal relief for state and local governments amid coronavirus

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Massachusetts Society of CPAs president and CEO Amy Pitter is spearheading a group of 28 state CPA society heads who have sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to pass legislation to help state and local governments deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has decimated the budgets of states and local governments, and congressional leaders are meeting this week to determine the shape of the next stimulus package, which is expected to be the last before the elections. Aid to state and local governments is one of many contentious issues still on the table. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion bill known as the HEROES Act in May. It included $1 trillion in funds for state and local governments. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., and the Trump administration declared the bill dead on arrival, objecting to the state and local government aid and other parts of the Democrats’ massive package. Senate Republicans remain divided over the issue, although as the coronavirus has spread across the country, some aid to state and local governments is expected to be included if Congress ultimately reaches a deal and it’s approved by President Trump.

Meanwhile, legislators and local officials in states and municipalities across the country are trying to cope with crippling budget shortfalls to close this fiscal year and limited resources to devise budgets for next year. The collective budget gap is projected to be $555 billion this fiscal year and the following two years. Pitter recruited state CPA society leaders to support the effort and work together to find a solution, so legislators won’t have to resort to tax increases and cuts to important state programs. Together, the group represents nearly 280,000 CPAs from across the country.

“The Society is proud to lead the way by working with our partners to make an impact with elected officials in Massachusetts and in Congress,” Pitter said in a statement Wednesday. “We are hopeful that funding for state and local governments will be included in the next round of federal relief assistance.”

Pitter and the other state CPA society heads believe that without the promise of federal relief, tax increases on already burdened taxpayers and cuts to critical state and local programs will be all but inevitable. Given their tax and financial expertise and the millions of individuals, small businesses and thousands of local and county governments and others whom they represent, the state society leaders say CPAs stand ready to help rebuild the economy and stabilize the country.

Besides Massachusetts, other state CPA societies signing on include Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington State, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“Our members are committed to finding ways to assist small businesses as they restore and create jobs, to take advantage of current and future federal loan programs, and to help local economies recover, so that they can help restore economic vitality,” they wrote in the letter last week. “Federal aid that encompasses Main Street business recovery — along with appropriately targeted liability protections — will help rebuild our country.”

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State tax revenues CPAs Coronavirus Finance, investment and tax-related legislation Mitch McConnell