Legislative leaders from counties, state join Cuomo in push for federal funding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 August 2020 at 11:39 am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t alone among elected officials in New York State seeking federal funding to preserve local services and stave off property tax hikes.

Cuomo on Friday was joined by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in sending a letter to New York’s Congressional Delegation, seeking $30 billion in federal funding over two years for state and local governments.

The New York State Association of Counties also is pressing the federal government to come through with local government aid due to the loss of revenue and rising expenses from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Over the past several months, we have been assured through the many steps of the legislative process that state and local needs would be addressed in subsequent legislation,” according to the letter from Cuomo, Stewart-Cousins and Heastie. “As it appears as we have now reached the end of that road, it is essential that we receive this assistance without further delay.”

They say that revenues to local and state governments have been in “free fall” during the pandemic while government has spent more to fight the spread of the virus.

“The actions you take in the coming days to address many needs of the pandemic can serve to bolster these efforts while transitioning our state to the next and necessary phase of economic recovery,” Cuomo and the Legislature leaders wrote.

The NYSAC group of county officials across the state also issued a “Last Call to Save Local Jobs and Services” on Friday. They are urging President Trump and congressional leaders to reach an agreement on a stimulus bill that includes direct, flexible aid to states and local governments.

Counties are more than halfway through their budget year and facing the increased costs of fighting Covid-19 while experiencing big drops in revenue.

NYSAC says thousands of jobs, vital services and millions of dollars in economic activity are at risk if Congress fails to act. Congress and the president need to act or else there will be further cuts to local governments that could jeopardize efforts to keep Covid-19 under control and slow the economic recovery, NYSAC said.

“For nearly 6 months, counties have been responding to a pandemic that began as a public health crisis and evolved into an economic crisis,” said John F. Marren, president of NYSAC and chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors. “Counties have tightened their belts to do more with less than anyone ever thought possible—leading the local health response to the virus and providing essential services to support our communities. But local governments are out of time and need Congress to reach an agreement to provide direct, flexible aid to local governments before they’re forced to make drastic cuts to jobs and services.”

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