tv Speaker Pelosi DHS Sec. Mayorkas and Others Speak at USCM Afternoon... CSPAN January 28, 2022 5:56am-7:02am EST
our official opening session at lunch, but let me say this now. mayors, business partners, staff and everyone else, welcome home. [applause] welcome to the place where you are valued. the place where the most valuable -- valuable officials in the country recognize the leadership of america's mayors and will speak and interact with us. the leaders of the house of representatives will be with us, showing our ability to connect with both parties. as we say, there are republicans, there are democrats, and then, there are mayors. 11 -- let me repeat that, 11 -- cabinet members will be with us over the course of this meeting. [applause]
it is almost like we are turning it into the roosevelt room at the white house. high-level white house officials coordinating on historic legislation that we helped pass it to law with us. numerous federal apartments and agency staff members will be with us, engaging in some of the most important topics of the day. we will cap that meeting off on friday with none other than the president of the united dates, jill biden. -- united states, joe biden. [applause] if this does not show the value of the u.s. conference of mayors and the power we have to influence policy, i don't know what we can do. as important as our engagements will be with our guest, the real stars of this meeting are you, america's mayors. [applause]
it doesn't matter if you come from the biggest cities in america or smaller cities, it doesn't matter what your political party is, it does not matter if you have just taken office or if this is your first meeting area that this organization, each and everyone of you are valued. we want to hear your ideas. we want to hear your concerns for want to learn from you. i do want you to know that we will all learn from each other. this is your conference of mayors. [applause] i know that tongue cochran strongly believes in the power of mayors, not only to deal with issues of today, but to seize the defining moments that will alter the future of our nation for the better. this meeting has been designed to address pressing issues of our time and address issues on
which we will be judged by our grandchildren. we have shown that when mayors stand united, we can accomplish great things and there are still things we have to accomplish on behalf of the cities that we love and the people we are so proud to represent. mayors, again, welcome home. let's head to work. thank you. [applause] ♪ erbil -- apparently, that was
first time jitters. it is my pleasure to introduce someone who is no stranger to the mayors of america, deputy assistant of intergovernmental affairs, our first speaker has helped open the white house to mayors and has been a strong advocate on behalf of our priorities. tom cochran is in a better position than i am to judge this relationship, a relationship this organization has had with various white house departments of intergovernmental affairs. in my time in office, i have never felt more welcome in a white house and more listened to on office -- on policy. our first speaker helped ensure the voices of mayors, republicans, democrats and independents alike, were heard on the highest powers in the land. titles matter. apophysis matters. but more than anything, people matter. and i do not believe that
president biden could have made a better choice than this person to be our primary liaison. as we start discussion and focus on coming back campers person and strengthening partnerships we built in the virtual world of covid, i am pleased to welcome to our state, the white house director of it -- intergovernmental affairs, julie chavez re--- -- julie chavez rodriguez. julie: thank you for that warm welcome and good morning, america's mayors. it is great to be kicking off the 19th u.s. conference of mayors winter meeting and more importantly, to see you here in person. i want to give special thanks to tom cochran and the team at the u.s. conference of mayors. they have been tremendous partners and allies, most
recently organizing a bipartisan sign-on letter with 151 mayors to advocate for voting rights, and to assure that we are doing what we can to protect this fundamental right. [applause] as the mayor mentioned, i am director of intergovernmental affairs at the white house, which has the privilege of being able to work with each of you on pressing issues facing our communities and cities. and together, mayors on the biden and terrace administration have tackled incredibly difficult issues together. our regular engagement the administration and the conference is a testament to the value that we see in each and every one of you as we implement critical like -- critical priorities facing our country. it is opportunities like this to connect with you all individually. i am sure we will get invited to many ribbon cuttings as we
highlight the important and historic return on investment that we have seen from investing in our cities as well as being able to connect with many mayors who are seeing funding in the first time being able to invest in areas of our community that have been plagued by generational poverty and underinvestment. but this is like it is all about. when president biden came into office, he had a vision of being able to bring people together to get things done, to unite the country, and prove we can rebuild america and do big things together again. and we are showing the american people that we are continuing to move forward and we are preparing for the future. again, it is wonderful to be with you today. i want to remember that when you're ago, we were not able to come together in this way and meet in-person here at the u.s. conference of mayors.
one year ago, before the president took office, 46% of our schools were open, the unemployment rate was 6.2 percent. 18 million americans were receiving unemployment benefits. less than 1% of americans were fully vaccinated. as you saw in your cities, american families were struggling to make ends meet. tomorrow officially marks the one-year anniversary since president biden and vice president harris took office. [applause] and amid several crises, the administration has moved quickly , working with you across the country to deliver results for working families and change lives for the better. together, we got shot in arms and helped save many lives. the president set up a historic vaccination program and with the help of the u.s. conference challenge, more than 2 million
americans are now fully vaccinated. that is about 75% of all our adults. millions of teenagers and children are now vaccinated thanks to the work we have done together. and 80 million americans have received booster shots. the president was able to close the racial equity gap in covid vaccinations among young adults, he delivered funding to you all to make sure we can now have 96% of schools open. and all these steps of continued save lives. together, we got people back to work. president biden's first year was the greatest year of job creation in american history with more than 6.4 million jobs created. [applause] and recent weekly unemployment claims are down. we went from 18 million americans receiving unemployment benefits to now, just 2 million americans. economic growth is the strongest it has been in two generations.
and for the first time in about 20 years, the u.s. economy has gone faster than china's. the american rescue plan led to what many experts are saying will be the lowest child poverty rate on record, and the unemployment rate is now down to 3.9%, two years faster than projected. that is progress i think we can all be proud of. [applause] and this year, thanks to mayors across the country, we were able to pass critical legislation to be able to build on our job creation and address our crumbling infrastructure. you know, president biden got the american rescue plan and vice president -- and the infrastructure law passed, the most impactful legislative agenda we have seen any first-your president, thanks to all of you making the case on what this means to americans, your cities and our communities. with funding from the bipartisan
infrastructure law, we will continue to create jobs, provide clean drinking water to all americans, upgrade roads, airports and rail, and take a critical first step toward a clean energy future. as president biden and our office know, the stronger our relationship is with cities and mayors, the stronger our relationship is. the president does this can be a moment when america wins the competition of the 21st century by rebuilding our infrastructure. but we know that for all the progress we have been able to make together, there is critical work we still need to do. we need to ensure and seize this moment to reimagine and rebuild a new american economy that invests in the promise and potential of every american and makes it easier for families to break into and remain in the middle class. and we believe our more recent
legislation and proposals, the build back better act, will do just that. it is a critical investment in our human infrastructure and it is about investing in american people, including america's children. so, we look forward to continuing to work you all to get this critical legislation passed that will lower taxes and extend the child tax credit for millions, that would lower the cost of care, making universal preschool a reality, providing paid leave and access to home-based services for seniors with disabilities, to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and lower health care costs by extending the affordable care act tax cuts. and we know housing is a critical issue that so many of you are facing so yes, the opportunity to lower housing costs and increase the supply of affordable housing and construct up to one million units. [applause]
but as i mentioned, we would not be where we are as a country without the critical leadership and important role you all play is america's mayors. we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to left up your work and we hope you will continue to shine a spotlight on the important efforts you are making every day, whether it is in local media, whether it is in helping to tell the story of the families as investments are impacting, we want to be there at every turn to make sure the we are signing a spotlight on america's cities and mayors. thank you so much for inviting us to join you. i am grateful we have so many of our cabinet secretary's and administration officials that are able to join you throughout the next couple days and most importantly, hear from our president, joe biden. thank you so much and enjoy the conference. [applause]
>> thank you, julie, for our great partnerships and -- partnership and all you have done to bring the administration to this meeting. it is my job now to introduce the administrator of the environmental protection agency, michael regan, the 16th administrator of the agency. before i invite him on stage, i want to make sure we have a lot to brag about when it comes to protecting the environment and health of our citizens. between resources we spend on climate change, water, wastewater, solid waste, recycling and restoring sites to productive use, we spend more money than anyone else to be good stewards of the environment. i am pleased the infrastructure legislation included much-needed resources for some of our most pressing issues and i am excited to hear about administrator regan's plans for his agency, working with us to protect the
environment as well as implementing legislation. please welcome the epa administrator and pretty good basketball player michael regan. [applause] administrator regan: good morning and happy new year. i am excited to be here. mayer, thank you for that introduction and for your leadership. -- mayor, thank you for that introduction and for your leadership. we have a lot of work to do together and time is of the essence. we laid a very strong foundation in 2021, especially the degree of agency rebuilding we needed to do at epa. i am proud of what we have accomplished, from tackling climate change to working towards rebuilding trust with underserved communities, to strengthening our water
infrastructure. but we have only begun to scratch the surface. we have a long way to go to truly building a better america, so we are going to keep the pedal to the metal in 2022. i firmly believe that our success in confronting the biggest environmental challenges of our time will be determined by our partnerships. as the state secretary of environmental quality in north carolina, i found how actions from the epa can help or hurt local efforts. let me be clear on that. i recognize that you know your communities better than the federal government ever could. you are the eyes and ears on the ground. we need to hear from you. we need to leverage each other's expertise and we need to energize our working relationships to meet the challenges of today and those that lie ahead. that is why when i stepped into this role 10 months ago, i made
it a priority to get out of washington dc, sit down with mayors in their communities to see firsthand the challenges you all are managing on the ground. since being sworn in, i have the pleasure of speaking directly with more than 50 mayors and i am committed to getting to know even more of you. the local level is where the rubber meets the road and nowhere is that more clear than when it comes to infrastructure. as mayors, you are on the front lines of the water crisis in america. you are managing infrastructure with the disastrous legacy of lead pipes, cybersecurity threats and pressures exerted by climate change. president biden knows that water infrastructure is not an issue state and local leaders can or should manage on their own. that is why the president has made transforming america's
crumbling water infrastructure a cornerstone of his administration's agenda and epa is at the center of delivering on that mission. epa, along with our mayors and local partners, have proven that investing in water infrastructure is a win-win for public health and economic development. in the first year of the biden harris administration, epi's water infrastructure finance and innovations act loan program has invested more than $5 billion in communities across the nation. taken together, these projects are expected to create over 36,000 jobs. and today, i am excited to announce $688 million in new loans to the city of baltimore, the city of milwaukee, and the union sanitary district in california.
[applause] in baltimore, 390 $6 million will help replace water mains and modernize water infrastructure across the city. but the focus on supporting -- with a focus of supporting low-income communities and communities of color. in milwaukee, we will repair stormwater management. and for the union sanitary district, $250 million will help reduce discharges to san francisco bay and improve climate resiliency and system reliability. these investments prove that protecting the environment and strengthening the economy are not mutually exclusive. they go hand-in-hand. funding in these three communities will spur an estimated 4000 jobs in construction and operations. these loans represent the power
of a dynamic federal and local partnership. they demonstrate that we can work together to address some of the most challenging, persistent public health and environmental challenges of our time good but our work is far from done. the successes we have seen in 2021 are illustrative of the benefits many committees will see under the bipartisan infrastructure law. the infrastructure law provides the single-largest enteral investment in our water infrastructure history -- $50 billion to protect lead pipes, protect our treasured waters and baled drinking water and wastewater systems that are resilient to this climate crisis. in 2022, epa will be providing 7.4 billion dollars of the infrastructure law funding to the state revolving funds, with a lot more to come over the next five years.
nearly half of this funding is available as grants or forgive up a loans, removing barriers to investing in essential water infrastructure in underserved communities across rural america and in suburban and urban centers. for more than 30 years, the srf has been the foundation of water infrastructure investment, providing financing for local projects across the country. but we know that many vulnerable communities, especially communities of color, have not received their fair share of federal funding. under the bipartisan infrastructure law, states have a unique opportunity to correct this disparity. during epa's journey to justice to her this past november, i saw up close the shameful result of this disparity that has been in place for generation. a mayor will remember, i was
sent to meet with students at an elementary school in jackson, mississippi, but school went up being canceled to low water pressure. hours after i visited jackson's curtis water treatment facility, the plant was forced to shut down, resulting in a boil water advisory for much of the city. let me be clear. these issues are not unique to jackson. i've seen firsthand the flooding concerns mayor douglas is dealing with in detroit, long-standing water infrastructure needs mayor jones is facing in st. louis, the lead contamination that a mayor has worked diligently to confront in newark. i have heard from parents in big cities, small towns, rural communities across this country whose children have been exposed to lead in drinking water and gary wound -- and carry around the weight of that trauma every day. folks, we can do better. and it is our responsibility to
do better. in the words of dr. martin luther king jr., who we commemorated this week, the time is always right to do what is right. and with the bipartisan info structure law, we have an opportunity to do what is right to confront long-standing inequities and build a better america, one that is healthier, more inclusive, one that is protective of all people, especially our children. the implementation of the infrastructure law calls for strong partnership and epa's ready to work alongside our local partners to ensure all communities see enfield the full bent -- see and feel the full benefits of this investment. that is why i sent a letter to every governor of every state sharing detailed information of
our goals for using the water infrastructure money provided through the water infrastructure built. i have also committed to issuing guidance in the coming months that will go into greater detail to help ensure this historic investment reaches our most vulnerable communities. let me be clear. for this epa, environmental justice is not an afterthought. it is central to driving all we do. and i am committed to working closely with each and every one of you, visiting more of you in your communities and helping to solve these long-standing challenges together. this is a historic opportunity to change the lives of the people who have been hurting for a long time and to show people that their government, federal, state and local government, actually works for them.
this is what i came to do and i know that is what you all came to do. folks, let's get to work. thank you. ♪ >> thank you, administrator reagan. our next speaker plays an extremely important role as white house coordinator for implementation of the american rescue plan, which the u.s. conference of mayors worked so hard to pass. jean sperling -- gene sperling has served as assistant to the president for economic policy under bill clinton and barack obama and is the only person to have served in this capacity for two presidents. mr. sperling has shaped domestic policy on a broad set of domestic issues, had a hand in
creation of the children's health insurance program, the expansion of the earned income tax credit, the new markets tax credit and now, the american rescue plan. at that is just a few of his accomplishments. it is safed to say you have shaped policy for children and families more than mr. sperling. in the white house, he is a strong advocate for cities and economic recovery that reaches those hit hardest by the pandemic and its negative economic consequences. mayors, welcome senior advisor to the president gene sperling. ♪ gene: why underachieve and go
for the podium near you? [laughter] i want to thank the leadership and past leadership of the u.s. conference of mayors, including your new president, mayor suarez. thank you for the introduction. congratulations, leeann whaley, jeff williams, and the guy -- and the man i have worked with her in three different white houses covering for decades, tom cochran -- ffour ----covering four decades, tom cochran. [applause] they are applauding us, tom, for being so, so old. i am proud to speak after the
environmental leader of our administration, michael reagan, and before the captain of our economic team, secretary of the treasury janet yellen. there are few people i have worked within the white house who are such high performance consistently as julie rodriguez, our head of intergovernmental affairs. [applause] her team is so amazing. and luke macgowan who works with me and her other rescue plan delivers over and over for both of us. i think one thing everybody understands is that the american rescue plan had a dual mission, number one, to combat the immediate crisis we inherited in 2021 and jumpstart our economy. but number two, to ensure that we as a nation and all of you has mayors have the financial
power and flexibility to an -- to invest in a durable economic recovery, to take on not just of immediate, but the lingering impacts of covid and provide an insurance policy and cushion against unpredictable economic disruptions and the most prominent known unknown, the spread of cobit variant -- covid variants. we are not only the nation in and the g7 to have returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth by the end of the second quarter. no other g7 country had returned to their level of gdp by the end of the third quarter, september 30. make no mistake, the u.s.
recovery has been faster than any of our major economic years in the world by a longshot. the 6.4 million jobs created in president biden's first year is not just the largest number ever created in a calendar year, it is not even close. second place was two thirds of that in 1946, the year after world war ii ended. unemployment at 3.9%, we have reached that for years ahead of where the congressional budget office predicted in february 2021, before the american rescue plan that all of you helped encourage past -- helped encourage passed. we have to be focused on doing everything to build supply, reduce price increases that are clearly affecting families
across armor country, but it is also crucial to note how much the strength of this labor market due to the american rescue plan is reducing the long-term pain that has been felt often after a deep recession, what economists call scarring. after the great recession, when congress refused to provide a major second recovery package, that lack of an economic cushion contributed to the scarring of both workers who were long-term unemployed, and young workers entering the labor market for the first time. when economists show is that if they young worker goes into a very weak labor market, they start at lower pay and lower jobs and do not is recover
quickly. thus the phrase scarring. on long-term of employment, you can sum it up this way. when you lose a job for a few months, it hurts, you scrape by, but most of us have in through it and most of us get by. when you lose a job for a year, year and a half, when you face long-term unemployment, people often lose their house, their spouse, they often lose their health and a significant percentage never fully recover. this is what happened after the deep recession of 1982, after the deep, the great recession of 2009. it is very important to recognize that due to the power and flexibility of the american rescue plan, those impacts,
rather than increasing our lessening -- rather than increasing, are lessening. i want to give you the numbers that establish that. because i was there as the national economic advisor for president obama. i saw us recover quick, but then saw all of you not having the strength you need. i saw you contract, because you had to because there wasn't the support that you have from the american rescue plan. that meant losses in state and local governments and meant contracting from the economic recovery. long-term unemployment in 2010 averaged 6.2 million. that meant 6.2 million families were stuck a long-term unemployment. today, it is 2 million, one third the amount. in fact, it was 4.2 million when
president biden came in, before the american rescue plan happened. since then, long-term unemployment under all the scarring and pain that goes with it has been cut in half. it has gone down more in the last 10 months than it ever has in the history of our country. that is an important impact on human potential and suffering. let's look at youth unemployment. do you know what it was like for a young person after the great recession? they averaged unemployment of 17.3 percent from 2010-2012. for three years, the unemployment rate for young workers was 17.3%. after the american rescue plan passed, it started falling quickly. it is now less than half it was in the great recession, it is 8.2 percent, one of the lowest
levels. and that means all those young workers who may have been scarred or held back when we didn't have the support needed, because of the american rescue plan, because of the support you have, are now entering the workforce with strength, not weakness. [applause] what else is the kind of distress that goes beyond the numbers when you recover from a recession? numbers get better. who gets left behind? often come of the people who suffered severe housing instability. dachshund -- often, the people who suffered severe housing instability. it was a new effort to have a new policy to prevent unnecessary evictions, but where are we now? it is extraordinary. 3.7 million of their renters are
receiving assistance from that. 3.7 million. there was never anything that was one 100th of that in the history of our country. and evictions right now, not only did we not get the tsunami of evictions that we all feared, evictions are at 60% of historic averages. in other words, they are normal -- they are lower today than they were in a normal, non-recessionary year. and foreclosures are not only not skyrocketing, they are one third of the level that they would be in a normal, average year. credit card delinquency, the lowest on record each quarter this year. so, yes, we have to take seriously the struggle people feel with prices. but in terms of what we have done to preserve human potential, the potential of workers to put people and families in a position of
strength, i think everybody here should feel very proud of what the american rescue plan has done to both your advocacy and your implementation. the speaker will follow me has the highest credentials we have ever had. secretary yellow -- secretary ellen shared the federal reserve and the council of economic advisers and i will let her carry more of the way on that. but i do want to talk to you about the urgency of the moment, to use american rescue plan funds to address our most vital economic challenges as we enter
2022. i am going to be straight because we have talked and listened in session after session as we put in place the interim final rules for the state and local plan. when the treasury recovery officer left here today and the deputy treasury secretary and i held sessions with you all, county leaders and governors, we heard one word over and over, flexibility. flexibility. over and over, we heard that each city and state has been hurt in its own unique way, as its own significant needs, and needs that flexibility to fix the fiscal health and economic damage covid has wrought. in the spirit of spider-man no
way home. with great flexibility comes great responsibility. if you are looking at how the public is looking at us and what we are doing with the american rescue plan, i think they are looking and asking, are we using these resources that have not just the power and flexibility to deal with the immediate crisis, but to deal with learn going challenges you face, people are asking, are we using it to address those top economic challenges? at the top of that list, among the top economic challenges we will deal with in 2022 is the issue of whether we are doing everything to retain workers in
essential jobs and to expand the supply of workers needed to meet our economic, education, health care and supply chain need. -- needs. we have a collective obligation to show we are using the resources of the american rescue plan that are still available in 2022 to address the most pressing economic challenges in 2022. so, i am for pressing -- i am focusing on workforce here, and want to leave you with the following. are we doing everything with the american rescue plan to retain the workers we need? are we going the extra mile to get hero retention bonuses, to help workers with childcare
costs or necessarily paid leave -- or necessary paid leave for omicron absences? are we deploying dollars to get americans training, apprenticeships, community colleges, training with jobs on the other side, are we doing everything to meet this moment? are we doing american rescue plan dollars to hire teachers and tutors to address learning loss? bus drivers? are we creating expansion of community health care workers, people we might have hired for contact tracing and are now helping and persuasion of vaccinations, but can go on and have public health careers and diversify our community health workforce? are we using our resources to expand the number of workers in ports and other areas affecting our supply chain?
are we showing that we are using the american rescue plan not just to bring people back to work, but better jobs with better working conditions and opportunities and career paths? the answer is that many of you are and we appreciate it and note it, and we have been discussing this with the president and i am sure he will address some of these eggs when he speaks to you. but even if you have been doing something, you have to ask, are you doing enough? we have a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill coming. historic. are we doing everything to do training aunt apprenticeships to make sure we can fill those jobs and when we do, that it is equitable with a diverse workforce? are we investing in not only retaining workers, but bringing
on more workers by raising the status and dignity and pay and career opportunities? many of you understand the real challenges of hiding behind the funding cliff argument. i understand that one wants long-term funding, but with american rescue plan flexibility, with revenues increasing, isn't it more practical to start making crucial hires we need. i am here to work with everybody here to mobilize and get
we are about doing action. we want to work together. we want to share best practices, mobilizations we can work on on different subsets of this workforce issue, from supply, care workers, to a call for youth jobs over the summer, we want to work together and mobilize. i only have one work email. we want to talk to you. write, call, send carrier pigeon notes. [laughter] of course there are investments
we celebrate and complement you one. we do not mean we want you to do less on affordable housing, broadband, or small business assistance. these are crucial for the transformation from the unprecedented challenges with covid we have faced. if you will forgive me, for now, changing my paraphrasing from spider-man to john f. kennedy, please ask yourself when it comes to expanding our supply of workers, what more can you do for your country with the american rescue plan funds? thank you very much. [applause] ♪ >> thank you for your work to help implement the historic
american rescue plan and your belief in the power of mayors. we are fortunate today to have our keynote speaker for the session, the honorable jane t yellen, secretary yellen is along a distinguished career in economics and public service, the only person to have served as the head of the white house national economic council under president clinton, the 15th chair of the federal reserve, nominated by president obama, and president biden secretary of treasury. as secretary of treasury, she has overseen critical points of president biden's american rescue plan, including the 65 point $1 billion fiscal recovery fund for all cities, and expansion for children's tax credit, resulting in a 35% to 40% drop in child poverty in
america over the course of 2021. she has also been instrumental in safeguarding the full faith and credit of the u.s. treasury, so central to our nations global leadership. mayors, please welcome a friend of american cities, and exemplary of a life devoted to public service, secretary of the treasury, janet yellen. ♪ [applause]
secretary yellen: thank you, mayor suarez, and thank you all for welcoming me. more than that, thank you all for your tireless work over the past two years. there have been few harder -- or more crucial -- jobs during this pandemic than being a mayor. local governments have been the first line of defense against this pandemic, and as much as anything else, it has been the work of the city that has kept our recovery on track. that's what i want to talk about today. almost exactly a year ago -- 364 days this morning, to be precise -- i was putting on a very large coat and getting ready to drive to the national mall to watch president-elect biden and vice president-elect harris take the oath of office. it was a historic day for the country, but one that played out
against the backdrop of real jeopardy -- roughly 3900 americans would die of covid that day, and the next. more americans were applying for unemployment insurance than during the worst week of the great recession, and millions of people said they didn't have enough food to eat. some economists were making dire predictions that the pandemic would plunge our economy further into recession, with many more jobs lost. of course, such predictions never materialized. in fact, if somehow you transported a group of economists -- including me -- from that moment to today and just showed us the current topline data. we would be quite thrilled.
unemployment is now at 3.9% the sharpest one-year drop in the rate ever. gdp now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, and 2021 witnessed one of the biggest reductions in child poverty and child hunger in american history. yes, omicron has presented a challenge and will likely impact some of the data in the coming months, but i am confident it will not derail what has been one of the strongest periods of economic growth in a century. none of this was guaranteed. i think it's important we recognize that. there's a very real counterfactual where omicron did derail our recovery, a scenario where the new variant hurdled our economy backwards towards its state on inauguration day 2021.
it's an important question to ask -- why didn't that happen? well, there are innumerable reasons. one, obviously, is that most of the country is now vaccinated. but it's also quite clear that you, that mayors, had something to do with it. the reason january 2022 is not january 2021 is, in large part, due to what's happening in local governments. i think the best place to begin the story is 10 months ago, in march. that was the pivotal moment, a time where the future could've forked in different directions. in fact, it was the last time i spoke to many of you at a gathering of city leaders. the american rescue plan, or the arp, had passed the senate and awaited a final vote in the house. many of you had teleconferenced into various congressional offices to push the bill to that point and to the make the case for one of its largest programs -- the state and local fiscal recovery fund, $350 billion dollars to help communities make it to the other side of the
pandemic. at the time, i think we all believed that state and local funding was important, that it was essential. in retrospect, though, that program in particular, and the arp in general, proved absolutely essential. you can draw a straight line between the arp's passage and our economic performance during delta and omicron. as this group knows better than anyone, the first year of the pandemic decimated government budgets, forcing states and communities to layoff or furlough a collective 1.3 million workers. these were the employees we rightly called essential --
teachers, first responders, public health officials. how would your cities be different if those essential workers stayed off the job? it's a question that probably has a very unpleasant answer. i think about the challenge schools are facing now, and then i imagine how they'd navigate that same challenge, but with hundreds of thousands fewer teachers and other school staff. i expect that would've been the case without the arp. of course, you are the experts, but it seems hard to overstate how quickly and completely the arp changed the everyday institutions that keep our society working. hawaii, for instance, had planned to furlough 10,000 employees, but on the day president biden signed the rescue plan they cancelled the
layoffs. denver was able to rehire for 265 city staff positions left vacant because of pandemic-related cuts, while wichita, kansas is hiring for 161 jobs, everything from animal control officers, to security screeners, to street and park maintenance workers. many places have used the arp funding not only to hire for public sector jobs, but to rebuild elements of the private sector that are essential to weathering pandemic. columbus, ohio, for example, is providing $1,000 signing bonuses for new teachers at childcare centers. they're also granting scholarships to low-income families so their kids can attend.
this, i think, is some of what the $350 billion did -- when omicron started spreading around our cities, it did not find them broke and broken. it found them much readier to respond. in some ways, the arp acted like a vaccine for the american economy, protecting our recovery from the possibility of new variants. the protection wasn't complete, but it was very strong -- and it prevented communities from suffering the most severe economic effects of omicron and delta. of course, the relief package did not predict when exactly those variants would emerge, but it did anticipate that our recovery would run up against some unforeseen barriers. the pandemic produced a highly unusual economic crisis -- one tied not to the movements of markets but to the spread and
evolution of microbes. the crisis could ebb and flow. it would hit different places in different ways at different times. the state and local fund was designed with that in mind, too. rather than one burst of money that could only be spent in certain ways, it called for sustained funding, and our treasury team has worked hard so you can use the money as flexibly as possible. indeed, in response to omicron, cities and states across the
country have used arp money to put on a clinic in quick and creative government. many have provided extra support to vaccine campaigns. others have built up their public health infrastructure. in recent weeks, minnesota has authorized over $80 million in arp funds for everything from the distribution of rapid covid tests to emergency surge staffing in hospitals. then are cities like st. louis, which saw that two trends were colliding --the spread of new variants and the expiration of the nation's eviction moratorium. there was a risk that people were going to lose the roofs over their heads, something that would not only complicate our efforts to stop the spread but also complicate people's lives for years to come. st. louis had been busy dispersing dollars from the arp's emergency rental assistance program, but also chose to use $58 million of its state and local dollars to keep people in their homes and shelter those experiencing homelessness. today, eviction filings are 60% below their pre-pandemic levels in large part because of work
we've avoided a national eviction crisis because mayors like you have helped build the infrastructure to deliver over three million rental assistance payments into the pockets of renters. in this country, we don't often recognize the crises that do not happen, we don't celebrate the bridge that doesn't collapse. but maybe in this case, we should. last year, the first time i spoke to a group of mayors, i said that fiscal policy often finds humanity in the city budget. but in 2021, it may have been that our economy found its salvation in the city budget. of course, the job of fully implementing the arp is not done yet, and our team is ready to continue working with you on projects from building affordable housing, to rehiring of educators, to the laying of broadband. but there's a good argument that without your work thus far -- and without the biden administration's relief funding -- we would be reliving something approximating the early days of the pandemic. and not just now, but for some time to come. that was the lesson of 2008. during the great recession, when cities and states were facing similar revenue shortfalls, the federal government didn't provide enough aid to close the gap. it was a profound error. cities had to slash spending, and that undermined the broader recovery.
one study concludes that for every $1 local governments cut in spending during a recession, there is a corresponding drop in gdp of more than $1 -- and possibly as much as $3. after 2008, state government employment didn't recover from the great recession until 2019. today, i can state unequivocally -- that history will not repeat itself. [applause]
more than just protecting and accelerating our recovery, i think that the passage of the american rescue plan finally allowed us to do what most of us came to government for -- not simply to fight fires and resolve crises, but to build a better country. it gave us a window to start building a better post-covid world. by helping us alleviate the immediate crisis, the american rescue plan created the environment for new, transformational legislation -- the infrastructure bill, the biggest investment we've made since eisenhower built the interstate. and congressional negotiations are ongoing regarding the build back better legislation. while we don't know the final form this will take, it will revolutionize how we care for children in this country, invest in climate change, and overhaul the international tax system to ensure corporations pay their fair share. paired together, these pieces of legislation amount to a once-in-a-generation transformation of our economy. they will lead to higher rates of productivity, an expanded labor force, and greater gdp
growth. and none of it would've been possible without the american rescue plan and your partnership with treasury to implement it. i am forever grateful for your partnership during the last 10 months, and i look forward to continuing to work with you over the years ahead. thank you very much for having me this morning. [applause] thank you. ♪ thank you. [applause] ♪ >> thank you, secretary yellen for being with us today. you are charged with addressing all the issues and are honored by your engagement. as a reminder, all attendees must be tested using an antigen test prior to each day during the conference.
here is a look at what is live today at 10 am eastern on c-span, the common sense society held a conference in palm beach, florida, including an evening with remarks from governor ron desantis. headache:30 a.m. eastern nato secretary-general sultan berg speaks to the atlantic council about ongoing tensions between russia and ukraine followed by discussion on nato's defense strategy with two supreme allied commander's. national security advisers from the trump, obama, and george w. bush administrative discuss global challenges facing the us. you can discuss these events live on c-span.org and on the go with c-span now, our free video apps. c-span offers a variety of podcasts that have something for every listener, weekdays, washington today, the latest
from the nations capital. and in their occasional series features extensive conversations with historians about their lives and work. many television programs are available as podcasts. you can find them all on the c-span mobile apps or wherever you get your podcasts. next, education secretary miguel cardona outlines the priorities for his department. he spoke about the reopening of schools during the pandemic, and making the education system more inclusive.