This week at Smithtown Town Hall, federal, state, county and town officials, including Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, New York State Assemblymen Mike Fitzpatrick and Fred Thiele, Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, Suffolk County Legislators Leslie Kennedy and Rob Trotta, and other local elected officials doubled down on calls for Congress to provide direct coronavirus funding to state and local governments in light of historic budgetary shortfalls caused by the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus.
Both the United States Senate and House of Representatives are back in session in DC this week. While several coronavirus response bills have been passed and signed into law since this past spring, there are discussions underway for an additional coronavirus response bill to provide additional assistance to individuals, families, and state and local governments.
While the CARES Act provided Suffolk County government nearly $300 million in federal funding, this bill had a 500,000 population minimum to qualify for direct support, resulting in it being the only local level of government in Suffolk County to receive that direct aid. In addition to Suffolk County currently requesting additional support, towns and villages in the county are also seeking federal assistance.
This is in addition to the 1.2 million pieces of PPE Congressman Zeldin secured for Suffolk County’s front line workers at the height of the outbreak, funding for local hard hit hospitals, and expanded access for Suffolk County to the Municipal Liquidity Facility to help provide tax relief to Long Islanders, as well as other important aspects of the response.
In an effort to provide additional direct support to state and local governments, Congressman Zeldin introduced in the House of Representatives the Direct Support for Communities Act with Congressman Antonio Delgado (D, NY-19), a bipartisan proposal to provide local counties, towns, cities and villages with direct local funding to be used for essential services and to offset lost revenues and increased costs from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced this legislation in the United States Senate.
“This is a moment in time for everyone to come together for the common good to seek compromise however possible,” said Congressman Zeldin. “That means, not only do you have to have a willingness to reach an agreement on the number, but you also have to have an understanding and a willingness to the fact that your political opposition will also be a part of a win because what’s most important is that your constituents and this country are able to move forward.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) echoed this call saying, “Cities have largely been left behind in Washington’s response to this crisis, and the fiscal situation for local governments everywhere continues to deteriorate. The cost of inaction is being paid by residents everywhere who are left with reduced services at a time when they are needed most, and has resulted in increased unemployment rolls, as public employees who provide these services are laid off. Cities are drivers of our economy, and we cannot have a strong recovery without strong cities. Mayors everywhere, in big cities and small, are urging Congress and the White House to come together to meet this critical moment in history.”