Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Thursday he would welcome direct federal coronavirus relief funding from the federal government to help address the city's projected budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year caused by the pandemic.
"It would absolutely be helpful, and I'm thankful that they are thinking about local communities and how we can best serve people in the midst of this really unprecedented time for our country," Bynum said on a Facebook Live COVID-19 update, in response to a question about the Biden administration's proposed $350 billion in direct assistance to state and local governments as part of the president's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Bynum, a Republican, said in looking over the budget for the coming fiscal year, city officials project a $10 million deficit.
"That's a significant gap that's going to need to be addressed by the council and I here in the next several months as we develop our budget for the coming fiscal year," Bynum said. "So, yes -- anything, any resources that could help to fill that gap would of course be useful."
Bynum said overtime for municipal public safety employees necessitated by COVID quarantines and a decline in revenues from the recessed economy are the primary driving factors.
Mayors David Holt of Oklahoma City, Breea Clark of Norman and Will Joyce of Stillwater have signed a letter from the U.S. Conference of Mayors supporting the $350 billion figure in the current Biden proposal, which is still subject to amendments and alterations as it moves through Congress. The plan was cleared to pass by reconciliation requiring a simple majority early Friday morning in a 51-50 Senate budget resolution vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
An aide to Gov. Kevin Stitt said Friday that the governor would welcome federal assistance to help Oklahomans, particularly with vaccine distribution, but does not currently have a position on the Biden plan as proposed.