July 03, 2020

Gillibrand Calls For Direct Federal Relief Funding For Local Governments Responding To And Recovering From Coronavirus Pandemic In Buffalo

Decreasing Revenues Due To The Coronavirus Pandemic Have Left Local Governments Strapped; Dedicated Federal Funding for Local Communities Would Provide Necessary Relief for Lost Revenues, Increased Costs And Will Help Avoid Local Tax & Fee Increases; The Direct Support for Communities Act Will Complement Direct Relief to States

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.

“Our local governments are facing unprecedented financial hardship, as the COVID-19 outbreak has caused costs to surge and revenue to dwindle. Without federal funding to fill these gaps, there will be even more hardship in people’s lives,” said Senator Gillibrand. “For months, I have fought for this relief in order to ensure local governments have the resources to pay our first responders, health care workers, teachers, and public servants, and to enable them to continue serving our communities without raising taxes or fees. We know that direct federal relief for local governments is absolutely critical to respond to this crisis, not just for this community, but also for our country. I will do everything in my power to ensure that this critical funding is included in the next economic relief package.” 

"Without direct, flexible federal aid, cities all across our country will face financial disaster and have to make terrible decisions that will endanger the well-being of their residents and impede our nation’s economic recovery. The federal government must step up and provide fiscal relief to small- and medium-sized cities now," said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Local governments employ firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers, and others who are vital to maintaining public health and safety.” The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act on May 15th, and now the Senate must do the right thing and pass a next round of stimulus aid that includes relief for small- and medium-sized cities before the August recess."

“As New York recovers from being the epicenter of the global health pandemic, Upstate New York communities are still hamstrung as they scramble to handle the economic devastation the virus left in its path,” said Senator Schumer. “With imminent budget cuts and layoffs mounting across New York, Senator McConnell needs to wake up to this crisis and support legislation that provides fiscal relief for state and local governments so Upstate New York can recover, rebuild, and flourish once again.”

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. Like many counties, Erie County is facing a budget deficit of more than $137 million due to decreased revenues during this crisis. 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 already struggling to make ends meet. 

Senator Gillibrand previously introduced the Direct Support for Communities Act to alleviate local budget shortfalls. 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.