OLEAN, NY — Standing at Olean High School with local school and municipal leaders, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer renewed his push for immediate, direct federal aid for state and local governments. Schumer explained that as communities reopen and seek to recover from the devastating financial impacts of the height of the COVID-19 crisis in New York, state and local governments, which heroically ratcheted up spending during the crisis to continue providing essential support for New Yorkers throughout the crisis, need federal relief that can be used to pay for essential services, offset lost revenues and increased costs, and aid in economic recovery.
“Our state, county, and local governments heroically ratcheted up their spending to confront the COVID challenge, even when the virus ripped a hole in their budgets due to collapsing revenue,” Schumer said. “Senate Republicans must join our push to act swiftly and decisively to provide a shot-in-the-arm of financial resources so state, county, and local governments can save tens of thousands of jobs, continue to offer essential services for their communities, and provide the assistance necessary to revive the economy. ”
The senator explained that with municipal governments across the state facing budgetary crises and forced to consider layoffs of tens of thousands of public health care workers, firefighters and EMS workers, police, sanitation workers, teachers, and other vital staff, additional aid for state and local governments is vital to community recovery as counties reopen.
Schumer added, “Providing urgent relief to state, county and local governments is not an abstract concept — it is keeping healthcare workers, firefighters, bus drivers and other public service workers on the job; it is preserving vital services during a pandemic; it is staving off tax hikes at the worst possible time for already cash-strapped New Yorkers; and it is providing resources to help keep small businesses open and rebuild local economies. Communities throughout Cattaraugus County were nothing short of heroes as they fought on the front lines to protect their residents, they shouldn’t have to fight to keep their jobs, stay afloat, and keep hospitals open.”
The senator explained that despite the unexpected good news of an increase in employment numbers for the private sector in June, job cuts within state and local governments continued to historically mount.
Specifically, Olean estimates significant cuts to state aid, and Cattaraugus County estimates $5.7 Million in lost revenue. Schumer said without direct, federal aid for municipalities, more and more staff in the county and Western New York will continue to be cut or furloughed, severely impacting government services and support to local communities as they reopen.
Several Cattaraugus County leaders joined Schumer in his call for direct state and local aid.
“It is imperative that financial aid comes directly from the federal government to the local governments,” Olean Mayor William Aiello said. “This will allow municipalities, who were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown and are facing a significant decrease in revenues to immediately direct that aid to support their budgets. Local governments are better equipped to identify their needs.”
“Direct federal support to counties, schools and municipalities is critical for sustaining the quality and the quantity of services currently provided locally. The local expenses incurred by the County in fighting COVID-19 were unanticipated and unbudgeted,” Cattaraugus County Administrator Jack Searles said. "In an emergency you take care of the need, but, the sustained impact of COVID-19 is taking its toll. COVID-19 continues to devastatingly impact individuals, families, businesses and local governments, many of whom are on the front line in the provision of health care services. In the stimulus package under consideration please don’t forget the needs of your partners on the front line in the provision of needed services.”