Gov. Jared Polis is headed to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with President Donald Trump and lobby for federal help in bailing out Colorado's coronavirus-battered economy, the governor’s office said Sunday.
“Gov. Polis is scheduled to meet with President Trump on Wednesday and will continue advocating for Colorado to receive more federal support during this global pandemic, including critical testing supplies and personal protective equipment,” the governor’s office said in a written statement.
“The governor’s first priority is the health and safety of Coloradans, and the federal government is an important partner in Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Polis looks forward to a productive conversation.”
The White House meeting was first reported by Politico.
The scheduled meeting comes as Colorado grapples with a $2 billion to $3 billion budget deficit caused by the pandemic forcing the state to shut down businesses in mid-March, beginning with restaurants, bars and gyms.
That cut deeply into tax revenues and threw tens of thousands of Coloradans out of work.
Polis is expected to join a long line of governors pursuing federal resources in an election year when many say politics is likely to play a role in who receives help.
On Tuesday, Trump said public resources shouldn’t go toward “bailing out” what the president called “poorly run” states, adding he was in "no rush" to strike a deal with Democrats over emergency relief.
“The elimination of sanctuary cities, payroll taxes, and perhaps capital gains taxes, must be put on the table,” Trump said on Twitter, listing off conservative causes. “Also lawsuit indemnification (and) business deductions for restaurants (and) entertainment.”
House Democrats have been crafting their own rescue package totaling trillions of dollars that could include funding for state and local governments, as well as paycheck and rent or mortgage assistance.
Politico reported that Polis was “one of the earliest to begin to open his state,” in line with Trump’s stated priority of restarting the nation’s tattered economy. North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum also has a meeting scheduled with Trump, Politico said.
The partisan overtones in federal aid discussions come after Polis publicly criticized the federal response to the coronavirus, including accusing the Federal Emergency Management Agency of undermining Colorado’s hunt for ventilators and personal protective equipment.
"We can't compete against our federal government. Either work with us or don't do anything at all," Polis said in early April. The governor accused federal authorities of buying materials "out from under us and not telling us what we'll get," in what he called a challenge to managing the state's hospital surge and the safety of health care workers.
"We're all on the same team ... we'd love to see that same spirit nationally," Polis said.
Colorado had been one of the nation's early hot spots for the virus, but has since succeeded in flattening the curve — slowing the spread through social distancing and a stay-at-home order that has only recently been cautiously lifted.
On, Sunday, the state health department reported six new deaths from coronavirus, for a total of 971, and 328 new cases, raising the statewide total to 19,703.