ATKINS: Sens. Tillis and Burr: Helping N.C. economies is not a partisan issue

Medical personnel work in the COVID-19 medical screening annex at NYC Health + Hospitals Metropolitan, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Like most states across the country, North Carolina is just beginning to open back up after many weeks of quarantine. However, COVID-19 continues to remain a threat to North Carolinians’ health and our state and local economies, and likely will for weeks and months to come.

Here in the Town of Mooresville, I have seen our heroes on the front lines — health care workers, police officers, emergency responders and other public service workers — risk their lives for their fellow citizens amidst the pandemic. Their work is simply too essential to be put on pause, and they continue to show up to work each day at great risk to themselves and their families, often with more hours and less pay. Unfortunately, without additional federal funding for state and local governments, these front-line workers’ jobs may soon be eliminated. 

North Carolina communities have done a good job at managing their finances, and we were fortunate to have a strong economy here locally and throughout the state prior to the pandemic. However, as we all have had to stop the economy to ensure our health care systems do not get overwhelmed, the devastation to our local economy has been staggering. 

For instance, the Town of Mooresville currently faces a $2.8 million budget shortfall. The leaders of these communities shouldn’t have to choose between eliminating “essential” jobs — the jobs that have been the most important during COVID-19 — and balancing their budgets. This pandemic was not created by us, which is why we all need as much assistance as we can get to help us transition and ensure that all of our essential and much-needed services do not suffer further.

As Congress considers the next round of federal funding, I urge you to work with those across the aisle to consider the far-reaching consequences that no federal help would have on state and local economies. While your colleagues on Capitol Hill will inevitably be at odds no matter what the final legislation looks like, make no mistake — funding for state and local governments is not a partisan issue. It is essential, much like the workers that North Carolinians rely on each day. As North Carolina, and our country as a whole, embarks on this long road to recovery, I urge you to remember the resilience of front-line workers during this time. Don’t let them down.  

Miles Atkins is the mayor of Mooresville, N.C.