U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a stop in Rochester Friday, joining local Congressman Joe Morelle in front of the Federal Building on State Street to talk about the need for direct aid to local governments to help deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two Democratic lawmakers are pushing for the Republican-controlled Senate to follow up on a bill passed by the House which calls for an additional $3 trillion in aid.
Gillibrand said the pandemic has sharply reduced sales tax and other revenues to local governments.
"Governors, county executives, mayors, town supervisors, have had to make the difficult but necessary decisions to close non-essential businesses and issue stay at home orders to protect public health. That has led to the plummeting revenues at a time when government costs are skyrocketing," Gillibrand said.
Morelle said this isn’t just a call for a federal handout to local governments. He maintains that it’s crucial to keep New Yorkers and others from facing deep cuts in vital services.
“This isn’t just to give governments money, that’s not what we’re about. It’s the vital services that they perform every single day. I don’t know what we’re going to do, not just the city school district, but East Irondequoit, Brighton, West Irondequoit, Rush Henrietta, Churchvile Chili, all the school districts that make up Monroe County. So much of the revenue they receive is direct support from the state of New York,” Morelle said.
There is talk in Washington of coming up with legislation for additional aid to Americans, but the final shape of that bill is still up in the air.