Arizona Mayors Applaud Kelly, Sinema for Protecting Cities from Potential Loss of Federal Funds

Today mayors from across Arizona applauded U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema for successfully working to halt the Biden administration’s proposal to arbitrarily end the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) classification for over 140 metropolitan areas including Sierra Vista, Lake Havasu City, Flagstaff, and others in Arizona. Without action from Kelly and Sinema, the reclassification of these cities could have harmed their access to certain critical federal housing, transportation, and other funding as well as their ability to grow and attract businesses.

“For months, I have pushed the Biden administration to halt plans to change this designation that would have hurt small cities and towns across Arizona,” said Senator Mark Kelly. “I am proud that, at my urging, the administration has made a decision that will ensure Arizona communities continue to receive their fair share of federal dollars, especially as we continue to recover from this pandemic.”

“This was the right decision for Arizona and I am glad the administration listened to our request. Maintaining the current threshold will protect access to critical federal services and programs for communities across Arizona,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

“I applaud Senator Kelly and Senator Sinema’s quick action to protect the definition and thresholds for the metropolitan statistical area designations,” said Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy. “The action of the Senators will ensure our community has the same access to grants, funding, and data as other cities and towns across America.”

“I would like to thank Senators Sinema and Kelly for their leadership in preserving the current Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) threshold of 50,000,” said Maricopa Mayor Christian Price. “It is important for our federal partners to understand that cities that would relinquish their MSA designation lose out on critical federal funding opportunities.  Preservation of the 50,000 MSA threshold ensures that crucial federal funds will reach our community for important needs and we are deeply grateful for our Senators’ support.”

“As a City of nearly 80,000 residents that has operated as a MSA for decades, OMB’s proposal to increase the MSA threshold to 100,000 would have had devastating and profound impacts on our community,” said Flagstaff Mayor Paul Deasy. “A new and higher threshold likely would have resulted in deep reductions in critical federal funds for infrastructure, housing and other needs. Due to the steadfast support of Senators Sinema and Kelly, the current standard will remain and we can be assured that we can continue to rely on federal funds that helps us provide critical needs for our residents. I commend our Senators for these efforts and am appreciative of their support and hard work on this issue.”  

On January 19, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a notice and request for public comment on a set of recommendations from the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee to revise certain requirements for communities to be classified as an MSA. Among other things, the recommendations would increase the minimum urban area population needed to qualify as an MSA from 50,000 to 100,000. 

In response to the OMB notice, Kelly, Sinema, and a number of their Republican colleagues urged OMB Acting Director Rob Fairweather to reject the recommendations that would increase the minimum urban area population threshold for MSA designations. Kelly recently introduced the Metropolitan Statistical Area Preservation Act, bipartisan legislation that would protect more than 140 MSAs, including several in Arizona, from losing this classification. As a result of these efforts by Kelly and Sinema, the OMB finalized regulations on July 16 confirming that MSAs with an urban core of at least 50,000 people would retain their status through at least 2030.