Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he would rather bankrupt states rather than send federal aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kentucky Republican, whose state is among the most heavily dependent on federal aid, told talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy to get out from beneath burdensome public employee pension costs, reported Bloomberg.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” McConnell told Hewitt. “It’s saved some cities, and there’s no good reason for it not to be available.”
Allowing states to declare bankruptcy was considered during the last recession, but drew widespread — and bipartisan — condemnation from Wall Street investors, public employee unions, governors and lawmakers.
The National Governors Association has said states and municipalities would need at least $500 billion in aid to deal with the coronavirus crisis, and McConnell took credit for blocking state aid in an interim relief package passed Tuesday by the Senate.
“My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that,” McConnell said. “That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of.”
“I said yesterday we’re going to push the pause button here,” he added, “because I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated.”