Capitol Correspondence - 12.08.20

Big Picture: Mayors Outline Service Areas Where They Expect to Make Cuts due To Pandemic Financial Woes

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Because the disability community is particularly reliant on public services such as mass transportation and education, we share this article by Axios on areas where city mayors are foreseeing cuts. We hope this will help our members plan ahead to meet the needs of individuals they support, including planning for advocacy on these topics as needed. We encourage readers to click the link to the full article, as it contains a graphic that is useful for understanding which services mayors are more likely to consider cutting.

“U.S. mayors tend to be an optimistic bunch, but a poll released Thursday finds them unusually pessimistic about prospects for post-pandemic recovery.

Why it matters: In a survey of mayors of 130 U.S. cities with more than 75,000 residents, 80% expect racial health disparities to widen, and an alarming number predict that schools, transit systems and small businesses will continue to suffer through 2021 and beyond.

Details: The Menino Survey of Mayors, conducted annually by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities (and named for former Boston mayor Thomas Menino), normally finds respondents upbeat about the future.

  • This year, 45% of mayors foresee ‘dramatic’ cuts to school budgets, while 38% expect big cuts to parks and recreation and 35% to mass transit.
  • ‘Only around one-third expect small businesses that closed due to the COVID-19 economy will be quickly replaced by new ones,’ according to a news release.
  • The mayors paint a bleak outlook for city centers, with 60% anticipating a permanent reduction in in-person retail shopping and the same percent saying that downtown office buildings will become ‘less desirable.’

The bottom line: ‘A lot of mayors think that it’s going to be a long time before they see a return to normal,’ Graham Wilson, director of B.U.’s Initiative on Cities, tells Axios.

  • ‘The mayors believe that they really need more fiscal help — that the CARES Act was not enough for cities, it was not enough for small businesses.’”