Commissioner Sally A. Heyman’s statement on the HEALS Act
MIAMI – Miami-Dade County Commission Sally Heyman has released the following statement as Chair of the National Association of Counties (NACo) Large Urban County Caucus regarding the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability, and Schools (HEALS) Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on July 27 as the first step in negotiations for the next coronavirus relief package:
“Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, America’s counties have taken the lead in responding both on the public health front and in economic recovery. As strong allies in the federal-state-local partnership, we have called for direct and flexible federal funding to allow us to best serve our residents. The HEALS Act falls far short of giving us the resources needed to best keep our communities safe and healthy.
“In addition to more direct funding for counties of all sizes, we have asked for increased flexibility in the use of CARES Act funding. Not only does the HEALS Act fail to provide direct funding beyond the five percent of counties nationwide who were eligible for the CARES Act, the increased flexibility comes with a condition that is unacceptable to urban counties. Essentially, we would be required to allocate a quarter of our funding to other local governments within our jurisdictions despite the fact that counties are generally responsible for public health. This provision is unworkable, and counties strongly urge the Senate to abandon the state and local aid provisions of the HEALS Act and instead provide additional flexible aid to counties of all sizes.
“Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars are best invested and shared at the county level. Counties play a significant role in public health, safety and economic stability. We are helping unemployed Americans and their families and supporting the small businesses and nonprofit communities. We are also investing in vital infrastructure, from broadband upgrades to roads and bridges, and human services for some of our most vulnerable residents.”