Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the North Babylon Fire Department to call 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 from the COVID-19 emergency. As local governments have faced slashed revenues due to the pandemic, local assistance is needed to complement direct relief which states also require to recover from this crisis.
Senator Gillibrand stood with local leaders, including Rich Schaffer, Town of Babylon supervisor, Presiding Officer Robert Calarco, and Angie M. Carpenter, Islip Town Supervisor to discuss potential layoffs of public health care workers, firefighters, police, sanitation workers, teachers and other vital public servants in New York if communities do not receive federal funding. 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.
“State and local governments are doing everything they can to respond to the health and economic crises this pandemic has created. They cannot do it alone,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Federal aid will help save jobs and services we fundamentally, and economically, cannot afford to lose. Direct federal relief for local governments is absolutely critical for communities across the state to recover and I will continue working to include this critical funding in the next economic relief package. Long Islanders cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, “The coronavirus has turned the Long Island economy upside down, causing unprecedented financial damage to county governments that are unable to close these historic budget gaps and recover by austerity measures alone. With the Long Island economy already on shaky ground, we need Congress to deliver federal assistance in order to avoid drastic and painful actions that would ultimately be borne by our first responders and taxpayers alike. I thank Senator Gillibrand for standing up for Long Island to that we can recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
“The HEROES Act is sorely needed to help Long Islanders survive these difficult times. In Suffolk County, we are seeing massive demands on local food pantries and mounting fears about financial futures. In addition, local governments are facing unprecedented revenue shortfalls as an unfortunate result of the months-long economic shutdown, putting vital health, emergency and social services at risk. This federal relief bill will help us all weather this storm by providing aid to local governments, housing and food assistance, unemployment compensation, pension relief, and direct help to individuals and businesses. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her continued advocacy for our region and her commitment to providing relief for the taxpayers and essential employees of Suffolk County,” said Presiding Officer Robert Calarco.
“Never before have we needed the federal government to come to our aid as we do now. Long Island, and the Town of Islip with the highest number of cases in the State outside of NYC, desperately needs this Heroes Act Funding going direct to our municipalities. We thank Senator Gillibrand for her unwavering support as she stands with the entire delegation for all of us,” said Angie M. Carpenter, Islip Town Supervisor.
“The Town of Babylon Town Board urges the United States Senate to follow the leadership of Senator Gillibrand in supporting passage of the HEROES Act which will fairly reimburse municipalities on Long Island and the State of New York for the devastating losses suffered as we have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 in one of the most impacted regions in the country,” said Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer.
“I want to sincerely thank Senator Gillibrand for advocating on our behalf during this tumultuous time. The COVID-19 pandemic is unfortunately far from over, and it will no doubt have a long lasting impact on local governments. It is absolutely essential that the Federal Government offers the appropriate resources to assist us in providing the vital services that our residents need and deserve,” said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth.
“These unprecedented times call for unprecedented action,” said Suffolk County Legislator Susan A. Berland (D-Commack). “The federal government is uniquely able to provide the necessary funding included in the HEROES Actto assist Suffolk County residents, who have been so profoundly affected by this pandemic, and to help close the budget deficit that our County government faces. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for her advocacy for the passage of theHEROES Act and her efforts to provide much needed assistance to the residents of Suffolk County.”
“New York may be moving in the right direction but we still face uncertainty as to when this crisis will end. The impact on our health and economic well-being has been absolutely devastating — people and businesses need continued support and relief, and they need it now. I stand with Senator Gillibrand in urging the U.S. Senate to take immediate action on the HEROES Act when they convene next week,” said Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Huntington Station).
“A recently released economic injury report announced by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone backs up what we’ve being seeing on the news and hearing from friends and neighbors; that Long Island, and its residents, have suffered unimaginable economic harm as a result of COVID-19. The report details significant net job losses between 220,000 and 375,000 that resulted in $21 billion in lost earnings and $61 billion in lost economic activity. Coupled with unprecedented declines in revenue, the COVID-induced recession will have a profound effect on this region for years to come and magnifies the need for federal action. Long Island, and all New York counties, are fortunate to have a proven fighter like Senator Gillibrand working on their behalf to secure the federal funding that counties need to continue providing essential, live saving services and protect the jobs of thousands of county workers who have been on the front lines of this crisis,” said Stephen Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties.
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. In response, Gillibrand is calling for all counties, cities, towns, and villages — regardless of size — to have the financial resources necessary to provide essential services and avoid local tax and fee increases that would place a heavier burden on already cash-strapped families and businesses.
Senator Gillibrand previously introduced the Direct Support for Communities Act. 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 consistently urged the Senate to include this legislation and desperately needed state and local funding in the next relief package.