To the editor,
Too many of our neighbors are struggling to put food on the table and pay their rent. At the same time, our state budget is facing a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall that could force harmful budget cuts at a time when we need to offer help. The federal government must step in and help address the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
This May, the House passed a $3 trillion aid package that extends supplemental unemployment insurance benefits at $600 a week, gives aid to help states avoid damaging budget cuts and provides other important assistance to help us weather this crisis. Yet, the Trump Administration and Senate leadership have opted to play political games by offering Band-Aid solutions.
Our national leaders need to reach a deal on a package that provides real relief. People's lives are at stake. With 11.3 percent unemployment, Massachusetts has one of the highest rates in the nation. Almost 1 in 12 Massachusetts adults with children say they can't afford enough food for their kids, and 1 in 7 renters are behind on rent, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Hardship is widespread, but Black, Latinx, indigenous and immigrant families have been particularly hard hit, with the crisis exacerbating long-standing inequities in health care, education, employment, and housing that stem largely from structural racism. Our community partners have shared countless stories about the persistent trauma facing kids and families in their communities. We must act now.
The country and commonwealth that I love and care for support people who are going hungry, losing their homes and jobs. Federal policymakers must act, by ensuring that all those who need it get direct cash and other supports to meet their basic needs. Additional federal aid is a clear-cut solution to keep people safe and get our economy back on track.
The writer is president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.