CNIGA Chairman James Siva Comment on CARES Act

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: James May
(916) 754-7540

CNIGA Chairman James Siva Comment on CARES Act

March 26, 2020

“Like other governmental entities around the United States and the world, California’s tribal governments are facing an abrupt shock to their economic systems in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our primary concern is the ability of tribal governments to provide critical governmental services to our communities during this disaster.

Voluntarily shutting down our gaming facilities was the responsible decision to make, however this decision resulted in our government revenue stream being reduced to zero overnight.  This loss comes at an enormous cost to both our tribal members and our local communities.

Though the situation is dire, we at CNIGA are pleased to see the Senate unanimously pass the CARES Act and look forward to the House following suit in the near future.  The CARES Act includes a total of $150 billion dollars for use by tribal, state, local and territorial governments.  $8 billion (5.33% of the total) has been earmarked for use by tribal governments.

Specifically, funding will be made available to tribal governments in the form of a mix of federal loan guarantees, direct funding and unemployment insurance assistance, relief for health initiatives, including special diabetes programs, and housing programs. The devil, as usual, is in the details as to how tribes will be able to assess and utilize the fund. While $8 billion certainly provides some relief, the figure is certainly short of what is ultimately needed.

Once the COVID-19 threat is lifted, restarting our tribal economies will not be an immediate or smooth process. It is unknown what percentage of our workforce will be immediately available and how many new employees we will have to recruit and license.

CNIGA extends our deep thanks to state and federal leaders, staff and consultants who are working tirelessly to ensure that essential resources are available to Indian Country.”

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