The SMART Act (State Municipal Assistance for Response and Transition Act), jointly created by Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy and New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez and co-signed by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The $500-billion relief bill looking to provide money for essential services.
“I don’t want to see for example a situation where cities slash police budgets and force layoffs of those who put their lives on line keep us safe,” Cassidy said. “That’s why Congress should include additional relief for state and local communities in this relief package.”
Cassidy described the bill as parceling out funds by thirds, “One third based on states population—clearly California needs more than Alaska. One third is based on COVID-19 impact—we’ve been terribly impacted. And one third is based upon economic impact which once again, my state and the states of my colleagues have been greatly impacted.”
Funds can be used to help state and local governments meet the current demand, expand testing capacity and contact tracing, provide further assistance to residents, local hospitals, small businesses and schools, in addition to maintaining critical services residents depend upon. The bill prohibits the use of funds for deposit into any state or state-affiliated pension fund.
Cassidy cited a study by Moody’s in his speech on the floor of the Senate: “Thirty-four states will see tax revenue fall by double digit percentage points.”
Cassidy sums up the act thusly: “States and local communities shut down when the federal government asked and then lost billions in sales tax and other revenue. These states, communities either lay off workers or they get help. The SMART Act helps. The SMART Act keeps the thin blue line, firefighters and teachers from being casualties of Covid-19. It keeps our communities alive.”