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Suffolk, Nassau Plead For More Aid From Washington

Nam Y. Huh
Associated Press

Businesses on Long Island lost jobs at a faster rate than the rest of New York. That’s according to a joint study by Nassau and Suffolk County auditors. Both county executives say federal help is the only way out. 

The new study shows Long Island lost almost 300,000 jobs during the first two months of the economic crisis. The hardest hit industries were hospitality and health care. Low-income workers and communities of color were disproportionately impacted. 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says the region is at a crossroads. He urged the U.S. Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which includes assistance for state and local governments.

“What do we need to do to recover? Three words: federal disaster assistance. This burden should not be placed on the shoulders of local taxpayers, essential employees and first responders. If they fail to provide the federal disaster assistance that is justified and necessary, we are looking at seeing the devastation from this extended out more than a decade. And that is unacceptable.” 

Federal aid so far includes $7.5 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and billions more from education stabilization, FEMA relief, block grants and borrowing. That still has left local officials with hard decisions to make. 

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says federal aid typically makes up a small portion of the revenue local governments rely on.

DiNapoli says it’s different this time. Steep declines in sales tax revenues have cut local budgets deeply. To date, federal assistance has only made a dent in New York’s economic shortfall. 

Without more federal aid, local and state governments face having to make massive cuts to municipal services and education. Some plan to borrow more to soften the blow.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.
Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.
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