Rebuild our local and national economy for all

Mayor Michael Helfrich
York City
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich reads aloud the anonymous names of child abuse victims during a ceremony presented by the Children's Advocacy Center on Thursday, April 1. Tina Locurto photo.

The economic impacts of COVID have tested the resolve of so many working people who were already struggling to get by before the pandemic closed the doors of businesses and nearly brought our economy to a standstill, with 10 million Americans losing their jobs.

No city or town across America has been spared, and York is no exception. Many of our neighbors, friends and family members are still struggling to get back on their feet as our country settles into the new post-pandemic economy.

Income inequality — at a historic level before COVID — has been exacerbated by the virus. But already some of the relief programs meant to help level the playing field, including unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums, are ending.

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Now we, as a community and as a nation, must decide — Is it possible to rebuild our local and national economy in a way that helps ensure a recovery for all, not just for the wealthy and the big corporations?

The answer to that question is yes.  

But it will require both federal and local efforts to make this happen. It will require our elected officials at all levels of government to put people over politics and focus on solutions that will support families and get people back to work.

At the federal level, the bipartisan infrastructure plan and the reconciliation package being debated now in Washington, D.C., offer immediate solutions. The infrastructure plan will put millions of Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, laying new broadband lines so that everyone has access to information and remote learning, and building the energy grid that we need to ensure we have power during the strains on the system caused by more frequent extremes of heat and cold. 

The reconciliation bill will help level the playing field for working families by providing family and medical leave, reducing energy bills, and making essentials more affordable like healthcare, prescription drugs, childcare, pre-K, college and long-term care for the elderly.

Here in York City, our residents responded to a thorough survey on how we should be investing our funds into the community. York City residents chose high-quality childcare, addressing homelessness, affordable housing, job training and investing in our neighborhoods among the top 10 uses of our resources. Over the next three months, this survey will be used to determine what specific investments we, as a city, will make in our residents, families, and neighborhoods.

Across America, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to our economic recovery. Different cities and towns will rely on different policies to chart their way back. But one thing is clear. The pandemic is not over and York City families, and many other families in York County, need more tools to recover along with those individuals and businesses that went into the pandemic with greater resources.

What I can guarantee as your mayor is that York’s path to recovery will be rooted in an openness to solutions and without partisanship. I hope my counterparts in Washington will join me in this approach, and pass the Infrastructure and Reconciliation bills.