Sen. Cassidy introduces $500 billion emergency funding legislation

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the SMART Fund to help states and communities affected by COVID-19. Source: (KNOE)
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Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the SMART Fund to help states and communities affected by COVID-19.

According to a press release, "The State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act targets $500 billion in emergency funding to every state, county and community in the country, while prioritizing assistance to the areas with the greatest need."

$16 billion of the fund would be set aside for tribal governments. Of the remaining fund, the first third would be allocated based on population size. In the summer, another third would be allocated based on rate of infection. The final third to be allocated at the end of the year would be based on revenue losses.

To read more about how the funds would be allocated, click here .

"I'm encouraged that the Louisiana House of Representatives is considering a resolution in support of the SMART Act. I do think it's something that is good not just for Louisiana, but also for the entire nation," said Cassidy.

However, Cassidy said he's still trying to convince some of his fellow lawmakers that the funding is necessary.

He doesn't have to convince Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker.

"I can't speak for every mayor, but I can tell you those who are struggling, and they all are because of the sales-tax revenue being down, need this support to make us whole," said Walker.

Though they aren't in a deficit, Walker said they're having to be very conservative. He said Ruston is looking at a $1.5 million shortfall from sales tax. He said they've had to lay off some employees and cut hours for others.

"When you're in a city, basically a two college town, with a large sports complex and lots of people coming into town, when you take all of that away, we know we're going to be down quite a bit," he said.

Walker said they're also still waiting on FEMA funds for the tornado that hit Ruston last year.

"If we had had those funds, we wouldn't have had to lay off anybody either. But we're waiting on funds from a year ago, and now this," he said.