There will be no filled hotel rooms, no crowded restaurants, no caps and gowns, no "Pomp and Circumstance" and no graduation at the University of Alabama this weekend. There will be more than 6,000 students who get their degrees but they will not do it on campus. They finished the spring semester on line and their commencement will be virtual as well.

The absence of students at UA, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College has cost the economies of the cities of Tuscaloosa/Northport millions of dollars. The shortfall in revenue forced Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox to place a freeze on all hiring, suspended all out of state travel for city employees and examine major city expenditures along with evaluating each of the city's more than 1,400 jobs.

Junior U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) says it is incumbent on congress to pass an aid package for state and local governments similar to the stimulus package recently passed for individuals and small businesses. "The shortfalls we are seeing in places like Tuscaloosa are going to be exacerbated by the loss of students coming in there," he told reporters during an online press conference Thursday.

"Right now Walt Maddox is already seeing the problems." he added. The first term senator called for congressional leadership to step up and help. He also took a shot at Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell for saying state and local governments should just file for bankruptcy.




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