Over the past year, public service workers have responded with fearlessness to keep their communities safe. For their sacrifice, though, so many have received pink slips instead of gratitude. And now, Charles Lane suggested cavalierly that things aren’t all that bad [“States don’t need a $350 billion federal rescue,” Wednesday Opinion, Feb. 10]. Tell it to the people who held the 332,000 state jobs that have evaporated since February 2020. Tell it to the millions making do without adequate highway maintenance, higher education, law enforcement and other state services. Absent federal assistance, many more jobs are threatened — the jobs of front-line heroes who have exposed themselves and their families to grave risk during this pandemic, oftentimes working without proper personal protective equipment.

The AFSCME members I talk to, having seen friends and co-workers get laid off throughout this brutal year, don’t share Mr. Lane’s bullishness about state finances or his preference for a “lean” solution. Neither do economists and experts from across the ideological spectrum. They are urging us not to repeat the austerity mistakes of the Great Recession a decade ago. This is a moment to go big. A bold package of aid to states, cities, towns and schools is the key to defeating this virus, vaccinating our people and jump-starting an economic recovery.

Lee SaundersWashington

The writer is president of the 
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.