Tester Secures Projected $1.37 Billion for Montana State, County, and Local Governments for Pandemic Response
Targeted relief can be used to plug revenue shortfalls, cover costs, and invest in certain infrastructure projects
U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that he secured a projected $1.37 billion for Montana’s state, county, and local governments in the most recent coronavirus relief package to provide relief from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Tester was the only member of Montana’s delegation to vote for the targeted relief package.
“Montana’s local governments have been on the frontlines of this pandemic from day one-coordinating the response to an unprecedented health crisis, working to keep kids from falling behind in school, and making sure police officers and firefighters have the resources to keep our communities safe,” said Tester. “Mayors and county commissioners across Montana told me that property taxes would go up and essential services would be cut without this support, and that’s just plain unacceptable. I will always defend Montana, and I’m proud to have worked with Republicans, Democrats and Independents to provide this targeted relief.”
Montana’s state, county, and local governments have been pushing hard for nearly a year for the federal government to provide relief that will help cover unexpected costs associated with the pandemic. The projected $1.37 billion secured by Tester for Montana in the new Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund can be used to plug revenue shortfalls accrued during the crisis so localities do not have to cut critical services. The targeted relief can also be used to cover increased expenses associated with the public health response to the virus, like securing additional personal protective equipment for first responders and helping counties shoulder the costs of safely reopening schools.
Local mayors and county commissioners praised Tester’s work:
Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld: “I want to thank Senator Tester for passing the American Rescue Plan. Because of this bill it will help local cities like ours to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic. It was extremely important to our town and the tourism industry of Northwest Montana to get the Empire Builder back up and running at full capacity. Because of Senator Tester’s hard work Amtrak will be bringing people into Montana and maintaining many jobs in Whitefish and throughout Montana”
Roundup Mayor Sandra Jones: “Roundup, like every community in Montana, has felt the pain of the pandemic, and these resources will be enormously helpful as we begin rebuilding our economy and getting folks back to work. Senator Tester stood up for rural communities like ours, and I am grateful for his work which will benefit Roundup for years to come.”
Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher: “Local communities like Butte managed to tighten belts through the pandemic, but it wasn’t without pain. We can’t thank Senator Tester enough for delivering funds Butte needs to recover and move forward stronger than ever.”
Deer Lodge Mayor Diana Solle: “Thanks to Senator Tester’s efforts, the ARP funds that will be released to our city of Deer Lodge will definitely help us to move forward on our new water well without putting such a burden on our taxpayers. The funds will assist in enhancing our infrastructure. We are beginning to investigate how we can help our downtown businesses that have been hanging in there during the pandemic. Deer Lodge relies on tourism and a busy summer sustains us for the year. I hope that we will receive the funds promised without the state government withholding.”
Glacier County Commissioner Michael DesRosier: “I am grateful for Senator Tester’s work to make sure local counties received support during these very stressful and difficult times. Many times people forget the rural small communities but because of Senator Tester’s work local governments will be able to use this money to help their specific needs.”
Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins: “The resources available through the American Rescue Plan will go a long ways towards getting our state’s economy back on track and ensuring Helena – and Montana – come back even stronger from this crisis. The more than $8 million Helena is projected to receive from this legislation will ensure we can continue to meet the critical needs of our community. We thank Senator Tester for his tireless work defending Montana, and for working to make sure this plan fits the needs of all Montana’s communities.”
Chairman of the Park County Commission Steve Caldwell: “We greatly appreciate the support that Senator Tester has shown for our counties and communities in these challenging times. CARES Act funding provided critically needed assistance that allowed our public health staff and other front-line team to mount an effective response to the COVID-19 crisis. This follow-up funding will allow us to maintain public services at a level that will be key to supporting local and regional economic recovery in the coming months.”
Twin Bridges Mayor Joe Willauer: “We are grateful to Senator Tester and the passage of the American Rescue Plan. These funds will greatly support our town as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and we will be able to invest these dollars into long term projects that contribute to our community’s growth and resiliency.”
Missoula Mayor John Engen: “We worked closely with Senator Tester as the American Rescue Plan was coming together to ensure that community needs were truly represented in the plan. As always, the Senator listened to community leaders and everyday Montanans to help craft a bill that will help challenged cities, towns and counties throughout the state continue to provide the essential services that make daily life possible. This plan reflects Montana values, puts people first, cuts through red tape and trusts local folks to make good decisions. This funding will make lives better for countless Missoulians and Montanans.”
Havre Mayor Tim Solomon: “On behalf of the City of Havre I thank Senator Jon Tester for all his hard work during the ongoing COVID pandemic, as well as his efforts to make the American Rescue Plan a reality. Furthermore, thanks to his support of Amtrak, their services will help re-boot our local economy and increase local employment opportunities.”
Montana cities and towns will receive approximately $133 million and counties will receive $207 million. This local funding will go directly to localities with populations of 50,000 or more, and for smaller areas, the funds will be disbursed through the state within 30 days. The state has no discretion to alter or withhold the allocated amounts.
Additionally, the state of Montana will receive $910 million to respond to the health and economic crisis. Montana will also receive $119 million to fund capital projects such as water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure that is vital for remote education and health monitoring.
Over the past year, Tester has held hundreds of meetings with Montana’s workers, small business owners, frontline health care workers, educators, Tribes, and local officials to solicit input about what Montanans need to make it through this pandemic. Tester has worked tirelessly since the beginning of this pandemic to provide targeted relief to Montana. He secured $1.25 billion for Montana as a part of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act last year.