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Duckworth Working To Funnel More COVID-19 Relief To Local Governments

In this Aug. 13, 2014, file photo, then-U.S.Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Duckworth, appeared in Springfield, Ill.
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File
In this Aug. 13, 2014, file photo, then-U.S.Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Duckworth, appeared in Springfield, Ill.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth said she's working to get more financial relief for Illinois municipalities struggling to keep services going after COVID-19 took a big bite out of tax revenues.

"We are going to fight as hard as we can to get money in there for the municipalities," she said in a Monday news briefing. "I have also been in contact with [the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity] to try to get some of the money that had been released for COVID relief to be passed along to the municipalities, so that it's not just money that's being reimbursed based on COVID expenses."

Duckworth said majority Senate Republicans led by Sen. Mitch McConnell aren't supportive of the additional $150 billion in COVID-19 relief for state and local goverments backed by Democrats, but she said she's hopeful about some positive signals from the Trump administration.

"I do think the White House--Mark Meadows--is agreeable to putting some money in there for state and local governments," Duckworth said. "But we can't seem to get to a final agreement yet. That's why we're still negotiating, even today."

Duckworth met virtually with Peoria city officials, State Farm leaders in Bloomington, and the Danville VA director Monday to discuss COVID-19's local impact and what federal help they need.

The city of Peoria is currently weighing layoffs to the city workforce, including the police and fire departments, to balance a $50 million budget deficit caused by the pandemic and resultant stay-at-home order. Officials in the River City have repeatedly looked to Washington over the past several months to stave off those deep cuts.

In the meantime, Duckworth said Peoria city leaders need to do "whatever they need to do to keep the community safe."

"We wouldn't want them to have a situation where they didn't have firefighting capacity, and that residents of the city of Peoria are getting into a situation where they don't have a firefighter come when their house is on fire," she said. "So we need to make sure we take care of the safety of Peoria residents first."

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Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.