One year ago today, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This economic stimulus plan has been a significant help to cities like Houston that faced record revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit us nearly two years ago, cities were faced with a crisis no one could have prepared for – massive budget shortfalls forcing cuts to critical services at a time when residents needed them most.
But for the funds from ARPA being made available, there would have been significant budgetary cuts and layoffs of Houston police officers, firefighters, employees who pick up our trash and work in our parks and libraries. Without this influx of federal dollars, the city would have had to close a $201 million budget gap in FY 2022.
Over the past year, we have utilized ARPA funding to give firefighters an 18 percent pay increase over three years and bolster public safety through the One Safe Houston initiative by investing in personnel, programs, and technology in the Houston Police Department. We also:
We cannot have a strong America without strong cities. American cities are home to 85% of the U.S. population and 90% of our economic output. That’s why mayors across the political spectrum came together and called on Congress and President Biden to provide direct fiscal assistance for all cities.
We are grateful that they heard our call and have made partnering with mayors and the city of Houston a priority.