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. “For months, I have fought for this relief in order to ensure local governments have the resources to address this unprecedented crisis and prevent more hardworking Americans from losing their jobs. 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.”
“As counties across New York are struggling with increased costs from the pandemic and massive drops in revenue, we’re grateful to have an ally like Senator Gillibrand to fight for desperately needed federal aid to state and local governments. Senator Gillibrand’s bi-partisan Direct Support for Communities Act is exactly what counties need to protect local services and must be included in the next round of federal stimulus negotiations. We applaud Senator Gillibrand, as well as Senator Schumer and the entire NY Delegation for their efforts to provide local governments with the resources they need to deliver the essential services that New Yorkers need now more than ever,” said StephenAcquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties.
“On behalf of our students and the North Country community served by Jefferson Community College, I want to extend our appreciation to Senator Gillibrand for recognizing the far reaching and long-term financial impact of this pandemic on local governments,” said Ty A. Stone, PhD, President of Jefferson Community College. “Jefferson Community College is grateful for the strong support we have received from Jefferson County during this challenging time, however additional federal and state assistance is crucial to the economic recovery of the North Country as a whole. The Direct Support for Communities Act will improve access to essential services, education and training, to help our community work through pandemic-related stresses and ultimately arise from this crisis stronger.”
“We are grateful for Senator Gillibrand‘s effort to secure direct funding for local governments,” said Scott A. Gray, Chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators. “Our community has to and will recover from this pandemic and it will require a healthy community, a successful business community and a strong government. We all have to move in the same direction – forward.”
“Lewis County is one of the most fiscally conservative Counties in New York State, yet even we could not have budgeted for the impact of an unprecedented global pandemic,” said Larry Dolhof, Chairman of the Lewis County Board of Legislators. “Even as revenues plummeted, County governments in New York stepped up to protect the health of their communities. It is time for the federal government to step up to do their part, too.”
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. Jefferson County, like other counties across the state, is anticipating cuts in state funding. Budget cuts at Jefferson Community College have already caused job losses, and Lewis County anticipates a budget shortfall of $5 million – 10% of its annual operating budget. Because of these deficits, thousands of New Yorkers working in state and local government have already 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.