Businesses are teetering on the edge and restaurants are surviving from one day to the next. So what does Congress propose to do about it? Omit local aid from the next COVID-19 relief package.
Legislative leaders tentatively agreed in a closed-door meeting late Tuesday that state and local aid provisions and business liability should be set aside for the next debate over aid expected to continue in the new year.
“There’s a lot of discussion around what will make the stimulus bill and what’s not,” U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, said Wednesday. “I won’t sit here and not express I’m a little disappointed.”
The most recent $908 billion COVID aid plan includes an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits for 18 weeks. Another round of direct payments between $600 and $700 is expected to be included for middle-class households.
The stimulus plan initially included $160 billion for states and localities — less than one third of the $500 billion Democrats requested — but is not expected to include any relief for states or municipalities.
Congress has to keep pressing on that until something is done. New York state, particularly the Twin Counties, needs local aid that funds mental health, substance abuse, affordable housing and other essential services that suffered and continue to suffer in the new wave of the pandemic.
It’s frustrating to know we have a state like New York that’s facing major cuts, so this state and local funding is urgently important.
States will indirectly receive some federal funds after the passage of any COVID relief package for health care, transportation and education services, and to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in communities. That’s good, but it won’t be enough to offset multi-billion-dollar revenue shortfalls that threaten us.
“We came up short right now, and there’s more work to do right now,” Delgado said Wednesday.
That, my friends, is a gross understatement.