A bipartisan group of Long Island elected officials has called on the Republican-led Senate to pass another round of federal coronavirus assistance for hard-hit states.
The call to action was made exactly two months from when the House Democrats and just one Republican — Long Island Congressman Peter King — passed the HEROES Act.
King says disaster relief should not be a partisan issue.
“This should not be a blue state, red state. It should not be a Democrat or Republican [issue]. The fact is Senator [Mitch] McConnell in Kentucky tries to make this a partisan issue, which is wrong. It’s a tragic way to go about it but the fact that the virus is hitting so many of the so-called red states might cause them to be more realistic.”
Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi says the bill includes a special fund for hard-hit states, and the elimination of the cap on state and local property tax deductions.
“There is so much uncertainty right now. Our state is devastated by the tens of billions — tens of billions of dollars — they have lost in sales tax revenues.”
Perhaps more important to Long Island is federal money designated for local municipalities and schools with coronavirus-related budget shortfalls.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says additional federal assistance is the only way to prevent massive cuts to government services and layoffs.
“If the federal government does not do the right thing and provide the justified and appropriate level of disaster assistance, this region is looking at devastation being extended for a decade or more.”
Mary Jo O'Hagan, co-chair of the Long Island Education Coalition, says schools might not be able to open safely in September without additional aid.
“We are facing a double whammy. We are facing a loss of revenue from state aid, but we are facing tremendous additional costs in terms of trying to provide a safe environment for our staff and our students.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called the bill a “non-starter.”