Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz will be in the nation's capital Wednesday testifying at a House Budget Committee hearing about the importance of federal investments in state and local governments, particularly during recessions.
The county executive said he is one of five speakers. There are three high-level commissioners representing state government from Maine, Arkansas and Ohio, a tax policy expert from the Brookings Institution and Poloncarz.
"I consider it an honor," he said. "If you think about it, there are thousands of counties, there are thousands of towns, villages and cities and they've chosen me to be the representative of local government for the entire country. So I'm pretty proud. It says a lot about the work we do here in Erie County. I may be the representative going on behalf of the county and local government but every one of the individuals in local government in our county is really the reason why I'm there because they're doing the yeoman's work on behalf of the people in the community."
Poloncarz said he was asked by the chairman and committee staff to speak because of his experience, not only as county executive but as the county comptroller during the last recession. He said focusing on Erie County makes sense because it is a large county with more population than five states and is comprised of urban, suburban and rural populations.
"When you look at the size of our county and the impact that federal funds have, I think our county, our community is a really good example of why these federal infrastructure dollars matter, why these federal investments in other areas matter because Erie County is kind of a microcosm of our country," he said.
Specifically, Poloncarz said he will be talking about the benefit assistance with regards to health and social services, the opioid epidemic and community block grants has had on the county. He said he will also lay out the potential dire impacts to the community if federal dollars don't flow toward workforce development and infrastructure during a recession.