U.S. Senator Charles Schumer formally announced today (March 25) the expected passage of the latest COVID-19 emergency package he directly negotiated, delivering $40B+ dollars to the state and its citizens.
In reaching an agreement, the Senate will help New York address the coronavirus crisis, support our local communities, and most importantly put workers first.
“This is not a moment of celebration but rather one of necessity,” Senator Schumer said. “The more than $40 billion dollars of additional help on the way to New York is essential to save lives, preserve paychecks, support small businesses, and much more.
"These critical dollars will inject proverbial medicine into our state, city and localities throughout Upstate New York, to deliver much-needed resources, right now, that can help combat the coronavirus. Like all compromise legislation, this bill is far from perfect — but it now does much more for this state, its people and its future than what we began with.”
'Unemployment Insurance on Steroids'
First, this relief package includes a dramatic and historic expansion and reform of the unemployment insurance program, something Schumer has called "Unemployment Insurance (UI) on steroids." He conceived this plan with an understanding of how the modern New York economy functions and to provide more generous benefits during this crisis to a greater number of New Yorkers, including those who have non-traditional employment like freelancers and gig workers.
The extended and expanded UI program in this agreement increases the maximum unemployment benefit amount by $600 per week above one’s base unemployment compensation benefit and ensures that workers who are laid off or out of work, on average, will receive their full pay for four months, a full quarter.
It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for small, medium or large businesses, along with the self-employed and workers in the gig economy, who might travel from Long Island or Upstate to work in the city each day. The $260 billion dollar plan will deliver at least $15 billion directly to New York. Payments of $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for couples accounts for another $15.5B to New York.
'Marshall Plan for Hospitals'
The second major priority of Schumer’s negotiating was to deliver a Marshall Plan for our hospitals and other medical facilities so they can provide necessary care during this pandemic. Schumer was able to create this plan and include more than $150 billion for it nationally. Given the New York is the national epicenter of the pandemic, billions of dollars will begin flowing to New York right away.
The money will be available to fund efforts critical to defeating the virus. That includes a massive new grant program for hospitals and health care providers, personal and protective equipment for health care workers, testing supplies, increased workforce and training, new construction to house patients, emergency operation centers and more.
Additional funding is also dedicated to delivering Medicare payment increases to all hospitals and providers to ensure that they receive the funding they need during this crisis, and new investments in our country’s Strategic National Stockpile, surge capacity and medical research into COVID-19.
Stablizing the Ones Hardest Hit
Third, Schumer, a proud fighter for state and local governments, negotiated a special program to deliver relief to those entities, to help stabilize the ones hardest hit by the virus, like Westchester. An expenditure relief fund of roughly $150 billion dollars will deliver at least $7.5 billion to New York, with more than $168 million going to Westchester County, over $159 million headed toward Erie County, and more than $128 million for Monroe County.
Small Business Rescue Plan
Fourth, Schumer, a longtime champion of small businesses across New York negotiated a small business rescue plan that allocates more than $375 billion to forgivable loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits so they can maintain their existing workforce and help pay other expenses during this crisis, like rent, a mortgage or utilities.
The self-employed, independent contractors, and sole proprietors are eligible for assistance. New York, with its 2.2 million small businesses and tens-of-thousands of nonprofits can expect to see billions of dollars once companies and organizations begin to apply for those funds.
NYS small businesses that currently have more than 19,000 existing SBA loans will also have relief from the burden of paying those loans with a new policy of the SBA instead paying the principal, interest, and fees for a six-month period.
Finally, Schumer negotiated several “emergency appropriations” totaling $180 million that range from:
- Billions for hard-hit airports;
- Expanded benefits to SNAP;
- Increased Community Development Block Grants, which helps all our municipalities;
- Funding for child care, of which New York would receive an additional $162 million;
- Nutrition for seniors;
- Nearly $1 billion dollars to help heat homes when income becomes a problem
- And $1.5 billion for the National Guard to support to the hardest hit States and territories, like New York where approximately 2,200 members of the National Guard have been activated, amongst other things. New York will see tens of billions od dollars from this account, as well.
Since Sunday, Schumer made several significant improvements to the bill that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first introduced. Here are some of the improvements:
- Four months of more unemployment insurance instead of 3 months;
- $55 billion increase in the Schumer "Marshall Plan" for our Health Care System;
- $6.3 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile for critical medical supplies, personal protective equipment, and life-saving medicine;
- $150 billion for a state and local Coronavirus Relief Fund;
- $10 billion for SBA emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief for operating costs once a small business or nonprofit has applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan;
- $17 billion for SBA to cover six months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans;
- $30 billion in emergency education funding and $25 billion in emergency transit funding;
- $30 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to state and local governments, as well as private nonprofits providing critical and essential services;
- $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the ongoing functionality of school districts and institutions;
- Make rent, mortgage and utility costs eligible for SBA loan forgiveness;
- Ban stock buybacks for the term of the government assistance plus one year on any company receiving a government loan from the bill;
- Establish robust worker protections attached to all federal loans for businesses;
- Create real-time public reporting of Treasury transactions under the Act, including terms of loans, investments or other assistance to corporations;
- Add a retention tax credit for employers to encourage businesses to keep workers on payroll during the crisis;
- Provide income tax exclusion for individuals who are receiving student loan repayment assistance from their employer;
- Eliminated $3 billion bailout for Big Oil;
- Eliminated “secret bailout” provision that would have allowed bailouts to corporations to be concealed for six months;
- Saved hundreds of thousands of airline industry jobs and prohibited airlines from stock buybacks and CEO bonuses.