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St. Petersburg Mayor On COVID-19 Relief: 'This Is Bigger Than A Party'

WLRN Rick Kriseman
City of St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote an Op-Ed with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez urging the passage of President Biden's COVID relief proposal.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez visited the White House Friday. He’s one of several U.S. mayors who met with President Joe Biden to discuss the new administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan.

Suarez and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman recently co-authored an Op-Ed in the Tampa Bay Times calling for bipartisan passage of the recovery package.

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Both mayors highlighted the pandemic's cost by the numbers — including the more than 27,000 Floridians killed by the virus, the 650,000 Floridians without a job, the 74,000 Floridians hospitalized with the virus — and the more than 6,500 Floridians currently in the hospital.

Kriseman said, on the Florida Roundup, he backs President Biden’s proposed plan because it focuses on his community's physical health and economic health.

“There's significant funding that's put in for a national vaccination program,” he said. “We need to get people vaccinated. The quickest way for us to get to the end of this pandemic, to the light at the end of this tunnel, is through vaccinations. And this provides the resources that we think are really necessary to help speed up the process of getting the vaccine into all of our communities, not only in the state of Florida but throughout the entire country.”

Kriseman is also advocating for the plan because of its economic resources for hard-hit businesses and unemployed Floridians.

“Providing that additional $1,400 would make a huge difference, providing a longer period of time for unemployment compensation to be paid, providing resources for our small businesses,” he said. “ “I can tell you in St. Petersburg, our small businesses are what make our city special. And we've had so many of our businesses that have really been struggling. And so the resources that are provided as a part of this act obviously will impact them.”

He says it’s time to put aside partisan differences. When it comes to the $1.9 billion cost of the plan, he says the cost of inaction is far worse than the cost of action. He says the short-term benefits of helping businesses survive outweighs the risk of incurring long-term debt.

The mayor also pleaded with U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to pass the plan.

“I hope they're willing to put partisanship aside, as we have done,” said Kriseman. “Mayor Suarez and I have done that, recognizing that this is bigger than a party or a member. There comes a point in time where it's about the country and about the people that they represent, every man and woman in the state of Florida. And that should be more important than, 'Is this a Republican policy or Democratic policy?' It's American policy."

Denise Royal produces The Florida Roundup. Her broadcast experience includes writing and producing for NBC’s The Today Show, Weekend Today, Weekend Nightly News, and MSNBC. She also worked as a Writer/Producer for ABC News and Nightly Business Report on PBS.