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Singleton, Gopal, Scutari Bill to Ease Financial Burdens on Local Governments during COVID-19 Advances

Bill allows counties, municipalities to borrow to cover shortfalls resulting from pandemic through issuance of ‘coronavirus relief bonds’

Trenton – Legislation, which would seek to alleviate the financial pressures on counties and municipalities during the current public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, advanced from the Senate. The bill would permit local governments to issue “coronavirus relief bonds” to cover revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The bill is sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton, Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Nicholas Scutari.

“COVID-19 is not only a public health emergency, but it has quickly cascaded into an economic emergency as well,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Local governments are feeling budgetary pressure resulting from lost revenues and emergency spending related to their COVID-19 response. This proposal, modeled after the existing Fiscal Year Adjustment Bonding Program, will allow counties and municipalities to continue to service their communities at high levels without the fear of economic disaster.”

“Not only are families feeling the economic strain of the pandemic, but COVID-19 has also brought local and county governments to the breaking point,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Without the ability to find additional funding, local governments will not be able to sustain the programs that people rely on in their day-to-day lives. The longer this pandemic continues the more tools we will need in our toolbox to get through it – this legislation will be one of those tools.”

“Local governments are reeling due to their projected budget plans being decimated by the economic fallout of COVID-19, especially at a time when people will need the help of the government the most,” said Senator Scutari (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This legislation provides a path to relief that is sorely needed by many local and county governments so they can continue to provide essential services to their communities.”

The bill would seek to provide relief for counties and municipalities that are facing budgetary challenges resulting from the effects of the pandemic. It would allow local governments to borrow, through the issuance of long-term bonds or short-term notes, to cover the revenue shortfalls and additional costs attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. They would have to pay back the money over a 10-year period.

The bill, A-3971/S-2475, was released from the Senate by a vote of 25-15.