Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) held a virtual press conference with teachers and first responders this week to announce his bipartisan effort for state and local governments to be included in coronavirus relief.
“If our communities are forced to declare bankruptcy like Sen. McConnell suggested, that will force our state and local leaders to cut essential services,” Brindisi said in a release. “That will mean less cops on the beat, less firefighters at the firehouse, and less resources for our teachers.”
Local workers from Brindisi’s district joined the meeting and expressed their support of the congressman’s effort. They shared the struggles they’ve faced during the pandemic, and what they could potentially lose if state and local governments declare bankruptcy.
“If our state and local governments do not receive much needed aid, we will likely see cuts to essential services,” said Paul Higgins, president of Endicott Professional Firefighters. “Our fire department works every day to keep our communities safe. I thank Congressman Brindisi for his efforts to get us the resources we need.”
Kirstin Vivacqua, the political action coordinator for New York State United Teachers, also expressed her support, saying educators have been working harder than ever to virtually educate and provide social support to students in the midst of this global emergency.
“This pandemic has severely impacted public schools as we provide meals and the technology needed to continue educating our students. Any further cuts to education would be incredibly devastating. It is good to know that public education has a friend looking out for all of us,” Vivacqua, who is also a reading teacher, said.
Brindisi sent a letter calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to prioritize the needs of local and state governments. The New York congressman has put together a bipartisan coalition in support of coronavirus aid for local and state governments to be included in any further COVID-19 relief packages.
“Our country is strong because in times of peril we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans first,” the lawmakers wrote.
In the letter, legislators address New York’s high volume of reported coronavirus cases, calling it the “epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreaks in America.” As of April 27, when the letter was written, there were more than 300,000 cases and 18,000 deaths. Cases have risen to over 350,000 and nearly 22,000 people have died due to the virus. The state has been under a shelter-in-place order since March.
“The coronavirus pandemic has not only increased costs for local governments, but shelter-in-place orders have also negatively impacted vital revenue such as sales taxes, court fees, parking fees, energy tax receipts and other revenue that State and local governments depend on,” the letter stated.