How state and local leaders are trying to fill the vacuum left by the Trump administration

Here’s our weekly analysis of privatization in the news and the communities fighting back nationwide. Not a subscriber? Sign up.

This week’s highlights

  • State and local leaders and journalists are stepping in to fill the vacuum left by Trump administration’s incompetent and dangerous response to the pandemic.
  • Harvard University has announced that it will pay all workers—including subcontracted dining and custodial workers—through the end of the semester.
  • The ACLU and others are fighting for decarceration as the pandemic spreads.

Governing for the Common Good

1) National: Rank and file workers are not only on the front line of the fight against COVID-19, they are on the front line of the crucial battle to recognize and strengthen the role of government. “My name is Donna Ragland. I’m a food service manager, I work in Columbus Downtown High School. I’ve been a manager for 24 years and with the school for 26 years. I’ve been with OAPSE 20-plus years and am vice president of Local 143. I’m from Toledo, Ohio.”

2) National: Union leaders have applauded passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), but say much more government action is needed to #ProtectAllWorkers.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said the bill “provides a good down payment to fund the front lines. It fast-tracks personal protective equipment for first responders; it provides direct assistance to state and local governments; and it provides a safety net for all Americans affected by this pandemic.”

SEIU International Executive Vice President and iAmerica President Rocio Sáenz says the legislation “is needed to ensure that SEIU members and other working families who are still showing up to work and on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus, are protected and safe. But much more is needed. The bill leaves some of the communities that are most in need of help in this moment of crisis with less care and assistance than others, and in so doing makes all of us less safe. Immigrants are our coworkers, neighbors and friends.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten said “with this global pandemic, there is a recognition that science matters and government matters. We need government to help us navigate the multitude of crises: illness, job loss, homelessness, caregiving constraints, and unprecedented levels of fear and anxiety. This package takes several important steps toward helping create some relief.”

American Federation of Government Employees National (AFGE) President Everett Kelley said “we applaud the House for swiftly approving the Senate-passed coronavirus stimulus package, which will provide $2.2 trillion in emergency funding to help our country better respond to this rapidly evolving crisis. We look forward to working with Congress in the near-term to address unresolved issues facing federal workers, who continue to risk daily exposure to the coronavirus.”

3) National: Union leaders are demanding that corporations stop inhibiting the government from doing its job in the crisis. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Lee Saunders president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association (NEA), wrote a letter to Chamber CEO Tom Donohue yesterday. “‘We condemn the Chamber’s efforts to lobby President Trump against using the Defense Production Act to direct emergency production of life-saving PPE and medical equipment such as ventilators. In times of extreme national crisis, we must put politics and profits aside, and we must come together to do what’s best for people: that means producing and distributing more equipment, quickly, by any means necessary. Lives literally depend on it,’ the letter reads.”

4) National: Governors, mayors, state and local lawmakers and journalists are stepping in to fill the vacuum left by the incompetent and dangerous response to the pandemic by Trump. “Whatever messages that are coming out of Washington, we are going to make sure we take care of the needs of New Hampshire first,” Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said at a briefing Tuesday. “What we aren’t going to do is overly accelerate or loosen regulations just for the sake of the economy and at the risk of public health.” Governors from around the country are pleading for federal help.

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni wrote, “It has been observed, accurately, that he’s exactly the wrong leader for this crisis because he has thinned the ranks of responsible professionals in government, because he has hollowed out relevant departments and agencies, because he devalues science, because he degrades information and because he parted ways with credibility years ago. But it’s worse than that. He’s facing judgment calls that require an emotional depth and moral finesse that simply don’t exist in him. America is relying on him, of all presidents, to care as much about vital signs as about dollar signs.”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) has denounced Donald Trump for setting off a destructive bidding war among states, the federal government and localities to secure essential ventilators from private, for profit corporations. “‘I stand here as someone who has had confirmed orders for millions of pieces of gear evaporate in front of us, and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is,’ the Massachusetts governor said Thursday. ‘We now have other orders that are outstanding that are probably “confirmed,” but we’ve literally gotten to the point where our basic position is until the god — until the thing shows up here in the commonwealth of Mass., it doesn’t exist,’ the Swampscott Republican continued. ‘I’m telling you, people are spending hours and hours and hours trying to get this stuff here for exactly that reason. Our first responders, our health care workers, everybody deserves to have that gear. And I’m telling you we’re killing ourselves trying to make it happen.’”

During World War II, “U.S. authorities successfully contained the problem of profiteering—and, perhaps more important, the problem of public outrage at perceived illegitimate profit-taking in time of crisis—with a multidimensional array of controls. These included direct caps on prices, special war taxes and very high marginal income tax rates on war manufacturers, and congressionally mandated “renegotiation” (clawbacks) of corporate profits deemed by the War and Navy Departments to be excessive.”

5) National: Recently updated coronavirus state action webpages: National Governors Association (NGA); National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) state fiscal responses

6) Illinois: The Better Government Association of Illinois has a statement on “Safeguarding Democracy In a Pandemic.” They say, “the coronavirus outbreak presents unprecedented challenges, and we appreciate the proactive approach of our state and local leaders so far. Restrictions are needed to keep public employees and citizens safe, and regular communication promotes cooperation. Still, these circumstances can test our commitment to indispensable democratic norms: The right to know what our elected representatives are doing on our behalf, through open meetings and open records. The right to participate in those decisions and to hold our elected officials accountable. As good government advocates, we are available to help public officials as they work to balance these priorities in a time of uncertainty. To begin, here are some guidelines for Illinois residents and their leaders at all levels.” 

7) Kentucky: State Rep. Rachel Roberts (D-Newport) says the state economic relief bill was government at its best. “SB 150 reinforces a series of emergency actions taken by Gov. Andy Beshear, that offers flexibility and protections for our frontline healthcare providers, it includes provisions to speed up the unemployment filing process and offers flexibility for small businesses. By removing some of the government red tape during this emergency, small business owners and entrepreneurs will be able to bring products to the market in order to sustain their businesses during this restricted time period. A key provision of the bill deals with unemployment and allows employees who have had their hours cut back or partially laid off, the ability to make a partial unemployment insurance claim to help cover some of those lost wages.” [Bill text and summary

8) New YorkFirst responders have had their busiest days ever. “”The city’s paramedics are feeling the impact of that massive increase in calls. Running low on personal protective equipment like N95 masks and often working 16-hour days, first-responders know they may frequently come in contact with the virus causing the global pandemic. “I think that they are now going with the mentality that they are potentially facing it on every call that they go to,” Gandolfo said. He relayed stories from providers who went on seemingly regular calls for possible heart attacks only to arrive to a patient who exhibited fever, coughing, and other potential COVID-19 symptoms. 

9) New YorkLibrary branches may be closed, but you can still tap into their resources from home. Here are a few of the many offerings: “The New York Public Library, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, has free one-on-one tutoring for kindergartners to 12th graders. The effort is a partnership with Brainfuse, an online tutoring organization. The tutoring is available from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Educational videos about a variety of subjects, including basic math, organic chemistry and essay writing, are also online. There are free test-prep videos. To get access to the tutoring and videos, use a library card. (Apply for one remotely here.) The Brooklyn Public Library is hosting virtual events on its website and social media pages. Today’s offerings include story time at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and a Dungeons and Dragons game at 1 p.m. On a Facebook page, the library is hosting a knitting and crocheting craft circle at 2 p.m.; on its Instagram page, at 4 p.m., is a writing session for teenagers using two-paragraph stories. The Queens Public Library has audio and video recordings on the history of hip-hop, including an interview with Darryl (DMC) McDaniels of Run-DMC, a talk with the rapper KRS-One and a brief chat with the radio personality Angela Yee. There’s also a celebration of Women’s History Month, with a chance to win free books, and a reference desk to ask librarians questions. Oh, yeah: You can also check out books.”

10) International: The IMF has complied a list of policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis from around the world.

11) Think Tanks: Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says the COVID-19 crisis could shift core public attitudes toward the role of government in a positive direction.  “The longer people are confined to their homes, and the longer that stores, restaurants and other businesses remain closed, the more Americans will be accessing federal assistance—not just those with the lowest incomes. That could change public opinion about the value of the safety net, or even what it should be composed of, as well as the role of government, Waxman said. ‘The meaning of a safety net takes on a whole different connotation in this environment,’ she said. ‘A longer-term scenario puts all of that on the table in a way that we could not have imagined discussing three months ago.’”

12) Think Tanks: Former University of Maine economics professor Mark W. Anderson says the U.S. must undergo a change in its attitude toward government. “Once we have weathered this storm we will need to restore a proper role for government and be willing to tax ourselves sufficiently to pay for the services only a government is able to provide.  It is not a matter of big government versus small government.  Rather it is a matter of good government, an understanding that government employees should be appointed or hired based on competence rather than loyalty.  Government agencies should be empowered to use good science to make sound decisions.  When it comes to pandemics, evidence-based decisions informed by experts are not perfect, but they are better than political decisions informed by ideology.”

13) Useful Resources: The Congressional Research Service summary of the CARES Act and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) summary of the CARES Act. See GFOA’s resource center on COVID-19.

Education

14) NationalCOVID-19 is putting the value of public schools on display, writes In the Public Interest’s Donald Cohen. “Students, teachers, and parents are now embarking on the largest experiment in online instruction this country has ever seen—and many important questions remain. Will there still be standardized testing? What about kids who don’t have reliable internet access? How will districts ensure data privacy for students and families? Another question: why’d it take so long to begin the experiment? It’s simple. Public schools are public goods. They provide basic educational, social, emotional, and even physical needs to not only students and families but also entire communities. Closing them has effects that ripple out beyond school doors. As Erica Green wrote in the New York Times, mass school closings could ‘upend entire cities.’” 

15) National: “The coronavirus pandemic could weaken the school privatization agenda,” says Jeff Bryant. “The rash of canceled tests across the country caused some knowledgeable observers to speculate on Twitter that the testing industry would not be able to withstand the financial difficulties of a nationwide cancelation. But what is also in danger is the whole policy imperative of the market-based education agenda. Much in the same way that widespread teacher walkouts and the Red for Ed movement over the past two years revealed the overwhelming need for government officials to increase funding and support for frontline teachers, the mounting fallout of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing politicians and policymakers to acknowledge the importance of schools as vital community institutions that need resources and support rather than fiscal austerity, privatization, and punitive accountability—the pillars of the market-based education movement.”

16) National: The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a regularly updated webpage on Public Education’s Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

17) National: “Organizing works,” says Sejal Singh. “We won!! Harvard just announced that it will pay ALL workers—including subcontracted dining and custodial workers—through the end of the semester.”

18) National: The National Labor Relations Board “will continue to assert jurisdiction over charter schools in particular cases, declining to voluntarily cede power to the states as a blanket policy. The NLRB contemplated withdrawing its authority to oversee labor relations at all charter schools in a case involving a campaign to remove the union at KIPP Academy Charter School in New York City, inviting interested parties to weigh in on the matter,” Bloomberg reports. [Text of NLRB decision, case documents and amici]. “So, for the time being, the Board will continue to decide whether to assert jurisdiction over charter schools using its analysis of Section 14 of the Act on a case by case basis,” Proskauer Rose says.

19) New York: The Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education has approved paid leave, but rather bizarrely, the leave right will expire this Wednesday. “The board, acting pursuant to the authority granted by New York General Municipal Law, granted the leave. The law grants to any school district employee idled by the COVID-19 school closure paid leave, without deduction from accruals, for all and any days the employee is directed by the district from reporting to their work location. The resolution does not restrict the district from requiring any employee to work regular and/or modified work schedules, from requiring any employee to work from home, and/or from requiring any employee to work via an online, electronic, distance learning or other such platform. The leave granted by the action of the board will sunset by April 1 or the discontinuation of the Executive Order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 14. The board also approved a Memorandum of Agreement between the Greater Johnstown School District and the CSEA, Local 1000 AFSCME, Greater Johnstown School District Unit Fulton County Local 818. ”

20) Ohio/National: Oberlin College, once famous for its progressive approach to education, is outsourcing union jobs. “These closures also underscore the importance of the issues organizers were already mobilizing around: in order to survive, during normal times, and especially during an emergency, people need sustainable livelihoods and health care. As Oberlin moves to outsource the positions of 108 unionized workers who are, at this moment, sanitizing the campus against COVID-19, it is leaving them at risk of losing their jobs, health care, and paid sick leave in the midst of a global pandemic. The college is engaged in a particularly deadly form of union-busting.” 

21) Ohio: The Columbus Dispatch says charter schools must be freed from the clutches of for-profit operators. “Two years after the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s brazen abuse of Ohio’s charter-school system led to the online school’s collapse, the Ohio House of Representatives finally are considering a reform that many observers never thought they would see: a ban on for-profit companies as charter-school operators. Hallelujah. It’s an obvious and long overdue corrective to a system that allowed unethical companies to siphon off millions in state tax dollars meant to educate children. The Dispatch thanks Republican Rep. Gayle Manning of North Ridgeville and Democrat Jeffery Crossman of Parma for introducing the bill as well as House Speaker Larry Householder for backing it.” 

Infrastructure

22) NationalWater shutoffs have come under sharp focus as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. “The advice is simple and universal: Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus. But for millions of people across the country, that’s not simple at all: They lack running water in their houses due to service shutoffs prompted by overdue bills.” We the People of Detroit co-founder Monica Lewis-Patrick “said her organization, which has campaigned for years to end shutoffs, has struggled to find bottled water to deliver to families without service because supplies are being hoarded. ‘Water is locked down,’ Lewis-Patrick said. ‘Many people have been texting and emailing me to say “What else can we do?” The world is crying out that there must be a turning on of the water.” Nick Leonard, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, says “at this point, it’s a bigger public health question now than it’s ever been.” 

23) National: New York’s MTA transit system, facing its “biggest liquidity crisis ever,” has been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s. “The MTA may be in store for $3.7 billion in federal aid,” The Bond Buyer reports. “According to a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, transit will receive $25 billion in the deal made in the early hours of Wednesday. Foye said that would cover needs for six months. A coalition of transit groups nationwide has asked congressional leaders for up to $25 billion.” 

24) National: After a dramatic collapse the week before last, the municipal bond market, which is the cornerstone of public finance for state and local governments and structures, has roared back on the strength of the Federal Reserve’s assurance it will buy munis and the federal rescue package. “‘In our view, expanded Fed support for the municipal bond market as part of an unprecedented, more broadly-defined open-ended quantitative easing program (including the kitchen sink) should provide an important facility that would help to ensure the availability of adequate liquidity at a time of historic market and economic disruption when many municipal governments are struggling to balance their essential service needs against swelling coronavirus-related healthcare spending requirements,’ said Jeffrey Lipton, managing director and head of muni research and strategy at Oppenheimer.” The Bond Buyer reports that “overall $274.2 billion of the coronavirus emergency supplemental appropriations package goes to state and local governments and communities, according to a fact sheet released by the Senate Appropriations Committee.” 

25) NationalCOVID-19 is a blow to chances for a long-term infrastructure bill. “I don’t believe Congress has the time right now to include anything else infrastructure-related in the stimulus bill,” said Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, before passage of the massive recue bill by Congress.

26) NationalThe “nationalization” of bond markets has helped calm nerves, the Financial Times reports. “The dysfunctionality of markets has faded, but that doesn’t mean we can signal the all-clear. You can’t engender a recovery with monetary and fiscal policy—that has to happen through the medical sphere. The best you can hope for is to put the economy into a deep freeze,” Rabobank strategist Richard McGuire told the FT. [Sub required]

27) California: Bloomberg reports that “California may allocate a portion of its limited tax-exempt financing allotment to a proposed private train to Las Vegas even as it grapples with the expanding fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Virgin Trains USA’s plan to bankroll the construction of the high-speed railroad may receive approval from a California committee on April 14. State Treasurer Fiona Ma is putting the project up for consideration after the U.S. Department of Transportation sent the company a letter saying it can sell federally-authorized private activity bonds, her spokesman, Mark DeSio, said Wednesday.” 

Criminal Justice and Immigration

28) National: With the rapid spread of the coronavirus through prisons, jails, and immigration detention centers, a national outcry has arisen to release people for the safety of prisoners, detainees and staff. The ACLU says in circulating its petition, “We must immediately reduce the numbers of people in immigration detention, starting by releasing the most vulnerable to serious illness or death. These detention centers are often crowded and lack basic sanitation supplies, with no way to practice social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts tell us that, once an outbreak occurs in detention, it will spread quickly and devastatingly. (…) Public health experts are sounding the alarm of the threat that prisons and jails pose in this pandemic. There is a heightened risk of infection for people who are involved in the criminal legal system—people living in it, staff, and the communities they return home to. That’s why we’re calling on President Trump and all state governors to heed the recommendations of public health professionals: Release communities who are most vulnerable to COVID-19—particularly the elderly and sick – and reduce overcrowding in our criminal legal system.”

Brooklyn Public Defender Scott Hechinger says “conditions on Rikers are unimaginably bad. My colleague has spoken to a few people trapped inside. What they told her is horrifying. Unless @NYGovCuomo,  @NYCMayor, & all DAs do something ASAP, we’re looking at mass death.”

Erin Leigh George, the Civil Rights Campaigns Director @CitizenActionNY says “COVID-19 infection rate on #Rikersis 77x HIGHER than the rest of the US. This will be the case in EVERY jail, prison & detention center in NYS. @NYGovCuomo & @NYSenDems know this—yet they continue to push #bailreform rollbacks that will INCREASE the number of incarcerated ppl.”

“We’re in a really bad position. Contagious diseases move remarkably fast in prison,” Bianca Tylek of Worth Rises told the Financial Times. “We have to release people from prison. There’s no other way of looking at it.”

Worth Rises, Color of Change and a number of other groups are circulating a petition demanding that incarcerated people have free communication with their families instead of having to pay massive charges to profit-making private corporations, especially at a time when family visitation rights have been cut off.

For up to the minute coverage of this issue across the nation follow @theappeal.

29) National/Georgia: Immigrants detained at the Stewart Detention Center “are sounding the alarm about dangerous conditions and a sense of panic in the facility as the COVID-19 crisis grows in Georgia.  On March 24, 2020, community organizations throughout Georgia were alerted that around 350 individuals detained at the detention center participated in a hunger strike to call attention to their prolonged and inhumane detention despite the imminent threat of the virus.” 

30) National/TexasA temporary restraining order has been filed for children held by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR contracts out for children within the system, a multimillion dollar business. 

31) National/Mississippi: The Adams County Correctional Center “is continuing to operate through the COVID-19 pandemic and is taking in inmates from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which contracts with the CoreCivic-owned facility located on U.S. 84 in Adams County, officials said.” The ICE raids that landed many of the detainees in the facility have devastated many of the families left behind, whose situation has now become even more desperate with the COVID-19 epidemic.

32) National: The GEO Group, whose stock price has dropped by nearly 50% over the past year, has been granted a massive 5-year contract with ICE to do “case management and supervision” for 90,000 to 100,000 participants daily. GEO Group has been intensively lobbying the Republican Party, CNBC reported in October. “The Boca Raton, Florida-based company paid Ballard Partners, one of the most influential lobbying firms in Washington, a whopping $120,000 to lobby on its behalf for ‘public-private partnerships in correctional services,’ according to second quarter reports. Ballard Partners is run by Brian Ballard, who was a leading fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign and was named regional vice chairman of the RNC finance leadership team a year later.” 

33) OregonLayoffs and a hiring freeze have followed a $60 million budget shortfall at the  Department of Corrections. “Corrections officials blamed the shortfall largely on rising health costs associated with caring for an aging prison population. That care includes expensive specialty and off-site medical treatments for complex health conditions that account for an estimated $14 million of the shortfall. It also includes diagnosing and treating an increasing number of inmates with hepatitis C, a viral infection that can lead to liver damage. Hepatitis C care makes up about $21.6 million of the budget gap.” 

34) PennsylvaniaAdvocates have called for the release of inmates at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “‘The goal has to be to release as many people as possible as soon as possible,’ Kabeera Weissman, co-founder of DelcoCPR, said. ‘Judge Kelly has the authority to make a lot of these things happen. A lot more needs to happen.’” 

Public Services

35) NationalThe U.S. Postal Service is breaking down under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jake Bittle reports in the Nation. “As the coronavirus spreads throughout the United States, the Postal Service has struggled to maintain its crucial role in connecting the country, while also protecting its workers and customers. These challenges are not limited to disinfecting surfaces or social distancing, either: Many post offices have long been understaffed, and the coronavirus is poised to push an already overworked labor force to a breaking point. Without drastic action, the virus could soon threaten the Postal Service just when it’s needed most. 

On Thursday, the National Association of Letter Carriers reported that Rakkhon Kim, a 50-year-old mail carrier in the Bronx had died of complications related to Covid-19.

36) NationalHow not to manage a “public-private partnership”: “General Motors Co. and ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems Inc. say they had much of what they needed in place to ramp up production of breathing machines that would help coronavirus patients survive and recover. They were just waiting on the Trump administration to place orders and cut checks. And then, just as frustration was mounting within the largest U.S. carmaker and its partner over the federal government finalizing the details, President Donald Trump went on the attack Friday. He accused the company of moving too slowly and charging too much, specifically criticizing Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra.” 

37) National: The Environmental Protection Agency, in a dramatic move, has suspended its enforcement of environmental regulations. “This EPA statement is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future. It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way ’caused’ by the virus pandemic. And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was,” Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA’s Office of Enforcement during the Obama administration, wrote in a statement to The Hill.

38) National: The Affordable Care Act is facing mindboggling challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even with ACA coverage, individuals are expected to face ballooning costs, health- industry experts said. … Some states already are reporting a surge in hospital admissions and rising demand for ventilators for a virus that can leave roughly 20% of infected people with symptoms severe enough for intensive care. Meanwhile, jobless claims are hitting unparalleled levels as industries reel from government calls for social distancing that has closed businesses and strained the economy. The looming cost surge also exposes the limits of the ACA. The health law caps individuals’ out-of-pocket spending—which includes deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for in-network care and services—but doesn’t protect patients from costs for treatment outside a person’s insurance network. Overall, out-of-pocket costs could top $16 billion under a severe coronavirus outbreak, according to an analysis by S&P Global Ratings.”

ACA premiums will shoot up by 40% according to one report, just as working families are under maximum economic pressure.

39) National: Common Dreams reports that “after millions of Americans abruptly lost their jobs this month due to the coronavirus, resulting in a record-shattering 3.28 million unemployment claims in one week, Medicare for All advocates are pointing to the crisis as the latest and clearest evidence that the U.S. must abandon its for-profit healthcare system once and for all.” 

40) National: What was that again about a private, profit-driven healthcare model more efficiently allocating healthcare delivery than a public system?

41) New York/National: Video: “We risk our life every time we grab a garbage bag.” 

Everything Else 

42) National: Moody’s says the market crash and economic fallout from the coronavirus has led to public pension investment losses that are approaching $1 trillion.

43) National: Curious about some of the bizarrely extravagant, hugely retroactive, tax breaks and fixes for corporations that were just passed into law? Their lawyers and accountants have been busy totting them up

44) National: Municipal finance analyst Cate Long points to a possible indicator of state and local government revenue stress. Fitch says outlooks for U.S. public finance sectors are mostly negative. “State and local governments and educational institutions will face budget pressures from the lockdowns, which will cut revenues and reduce cash flows. Utilities such as public power, water and sewer will likely be more resilient, but could still see effects from rising delinquencies and lower demand.”

45) National: The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a regularly updated webpage on COVID-19 and Elections.

46) MississippiState preemption has turned potentially deadly. Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) has overridden local coronavirus measures, reopening some restaurants and classifying businesses like gun stores as “essential.” Social media has not been kind to the governor. For more on Mississippi’s miserable record, click on the state on this map.

47) Puerto Rico: Bond analyst Cate Long says “the President thinks Puerto Rico debt restructuring is on pause. Someone might want to point him to the Unsecured Creditor Committee response listing ongoing litigation which proceeds full throttle.”