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COVID-19 Weighs On Suffolk County Budget Talks

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Long Island lawmakers consider tough budget choices in the pandemic economy.

The Suffolk County Legislature met to discuss expectations for the county’s $3.2 billion budget for 2021. Republican Legislator Rob Trotta criticized the lack of COVID-19 relief provided to county residents in 2020, and hopes the same won’t be repeated this year. "This body's made some horrible decisions during a pandemic. We’re giving out raises. People are starving," Trotta said. "Today, in the newspaper, we have more homeless and hungry people than we’ve ever had before. And this body has failed the citizens, the taxpayers and the poor of this county.”

Trotta blamed Democratic County Executive Steven Bellone for years of financial mismanagement.

Democrats say the county’s $1.5 billion budget deficit over the next three years is pandemic related.

Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco said he is proud of the work lawmakers have done in finding common ground during unprecedented times, and hopes that will continue this year.

“We were able, despite living in a time of hyper partisanship, to have passed most of the measures last year, and many groundbreaking items on bipartisan, and often unanimous votes," Calarco said. "I think that shows a commitment by everybody here in this body to find ways to work with each other to get things done as opposed to working against each other.”

Lawmakers will be able to amend the budget in February based on federal coronavirus funding to the state.