Senator Chuck Schumer was in Schenectady today calling for immediate fiscal relief for cash-strapped local governments throughout the Capital Region.
The Democratic U.S. Senate Minority leader came to city hall to push for federal aid for local and state governments, whose budgets have been upended by the pandemic. He says the federal government has to step up.
"Now we all know that these are some of the toughest times that both the Capital Region, New York and America have faced. But one thing that's inspired me is New Yorkers. We've come together. We've supported our neighbors and our loved ones during this unprecedented time. So many first responders in different ways risked their own lives and health to help us. Whether it was it was in health care or working in a grocery store or anything else. And many of those first responders work for our local and state government. And they are our heroes in many, many ways. Right here, state and local governments heroically ratcheted up their spending. They ripped huge holes in their budgets because they faced a huge loss of revenue."
According to Schumer's office, Schenectady is anticipating $12 million dollars in lost revenue. Democratic Mayor Gary McCarthy:
"I was originally using numbers that were a little over $11 million dollars fro our deficit here. We're now looking at $12 million because some of the things haven't come back quite as quick as we'd like. We thought the casino would be open by now, some of the other activities, have not been quite what our original assumptions are."
Schenectady County faces a $16 million dollar loss; County Legislator Phillip Fields says the economic collapse has no precedent.
"We haven't seen anything like this in modern times. Nearly every activity funded by the state government in the local counties area will face deep cuts. And we are experiencing this dramatic drop in revenue forcing the state, local, county governments, they're all experiencing a tremendous drop in revenue and also an increased demand in social services."
According to Schumer, the city of Albany faces a $19 million dollar loss, Albany County, $30 million; the city of Troy $9.5 million in lost revenue, and Rensselaer County losses of up to $20 million.
Schumer is urging his colleagues in the GOP-led Senate to save tens of thousands of "vitally needed local jobs" by approving the House’s HEROES Act.
"And if they don't get the money what will happen is very simple. There will be lots of layoffs of people who through no fault of their own can't get paid because the governments don't have enough money. There will be a dramatic decrease in services and our economy, instead of advancing, could decline. And people's health and safety and education will be harmed."
Schumer says the clock is ticking.