Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called for legislation to provide local governments with direct federal relief that can be used to pay for essential services and offset lost revenues and increased costs stemming from the COVID-19 crisis. As local governments have faced slashed revenues due to the pandemic, direct assistance is needed to help state and local governments recover from this crisis.
Concerned about the layoffs of public health care workers, firefighters, police, sanitation workers, teachers, and other vital public servants across New York, Gillibrand is fighting to ensure that all counties, cities, towns, and villages — regardless of size —receive federal funding in order to continue providing these critical services. The direct relief would help local governments avoid local tax and fee increases that would place a heavier burden on already cash-strapped families and businesses in crisis.
“With more than 45 million people out of work and our economy in crisis, we cannot allow critical services provided by our first responders, health care workers, teachers, and public servants to go unfunded,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Now is not the time for more hardworking Americans to lose their jobs. This smart and necessary policy will get significant federal aid that our local governments need to recover and I will continue to fight for this essential funding in the next economic relief package.”
“It’s critical — Congress must pass a coronavirus relief bill that provides direct aid for states and localities,” said Binghamton Mayor Richard C. David, 1st Vice President of the New York Conference of Mayors. “This is about supporting the local governments that pay our police officers, firefighters and other essential personnel and have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis we did not create. America’s cities are on the front lines of this public health crisis, and cuts to our budgets affect neighborhoods and families. I call on lawmakers of both parties to put aside partisan differences and agree on a relief bill that works for America’s local governments and taxpayers.”
“Because of this pandemic, Broome County is facing a financial crisis like we have never seen before. If we don’t receive federal aid soon, we will have to make extremely difficult decisions to keep this County from running out of money. By not including aid to state and local governments in the next stimulus package, the Majority Leader is turning his back on the front-line workers who have been fighting this pandemic since day one,” said Broome County Executive Jason Garnar.
The nation’s economic recovery depends on the survival of state and local governments. However, New York alone is projected to lose more than $240 billion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Broome County is facing 18 million dollars of lost revenue and state funding and has already had to cut jobs. Similarly, Binghamton is expecting up to $3 million in revenue lost. Because of these deficits, thousands of New Yorkers working in state and local government have lost their jobs at a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet.
Senator Gillibrand previously introduced the Direct Support for Communities Act and is calling for its inclusion in the next coronavirus relief package. The legislation would create a local relief fund to help cities, towns, villages, and counties address costs associated with lost revenues, and would help avoid cuts to essential services or local tax and fee increases. Part of the funding would be administered to localities through the Community Development Block Grant program while additional funding would be sent directly to states to allocate to communities based on population. Senator Gillibrand has repeatedly urged the Senate to include desperately needed state and local funding in the next relief package.