I hope that you and your loved ones are safe. We are living in an unprecedented crisis and this is the time for us to come together as a state and community. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken loved ones away from their families, disrupted every aspect of our lives, and crippled our economy. As a result, our state’s financial situation has been forced into a true economic crisis. Despite these issues, the job of government is to step up, provide leadership, and do the work we were sent to Albany to do.
The 2020-2021 State Budget was not the budget we hoped to pass at the beginning of this session, or even the budget we envisioned just a month ago, but the budget we needed to pass to keep the Empire State moving and to help lead New York through this crisis.While the scale of this pandemic can be overwhelming, we will beat this virus and all of us need to do our part to achieve that goal.
As your Senator and the Senate Majority Leader, I want you to know that I fought hard to pass a responsible budget that will still give our families and communities the tools we need to beat COVID-19 and recover economically once the pandemic is over. Below are some highlights from the 2020-2021 State Budget, and our ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic:
Pre-Budget Action against COVID-19
As the coronavirus pandemic hit New York, it was our top priority to respond quickly and with decisive action. That’s why the Senate advanced:
- A $40 million emergency relief package to help our state prepare for the challenges we’re facing today and potential future public health crises.
- Emergency Paid Quarantine Leave for New Yorkers under quarantine or isolation orders due to exposure to the coronavirus.
- Unemployment Insurance with no waiting period for New Yorkers who lost their job during the crisis.
Highlights from the 2020-21 State Budget
We fought to provide immediate relief to New Yorkers, protect our healthcare system, provide relief to struggling families in a devastated economy, and keep vital services functioning:
COVID-19 Emergency Funds
- We allocated $4 billion in State emergency appropriations to directly address the crisis.
Protecting Our Healthcare System
As we confront the coronavirus pandemic, the need to protect health care spending and invest in quality medical services for New Yorkers has never been more essential. To advance those goals, I fought to ensure the State Budget:
- Protected funding for public hospitals and indigent care to help all New Yorkers access essential health care coverage.
- Expanded access to TeleHealth in the Medicaid program so more New Yorkers can connect with their physical and mental healthcare providers.
- Restored more than $300 million in Medicaid funding that was proposed to be cut.
- Established a Prescription Drug Pricing and Accountability Board to make sure that New Yorkers aren’t overcharged for vital medication.
Supporting Struggling Families
New Yorkers are struggling due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn as businesses work to stay open and pay employees. To help New York taxpayers address this crisis, the 2020-2021 State Budget included:
- Guaranteed Sick Leave of at least 5-7 days (40-56 hours, respectively) for all employees.
- Increased Unemployment Insurance funding by $1.05 billion in anticipation of increased unemployment claims due to COVID-19.
- More than $22.65 million for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other human service programs.
- $200 million in additional support for the Child Care Development Block Grant to assist families affected by the public health emergency.
- The elimination of the current photo identification requirement for public assistance recipients and we allowed these New Yorkers to access a free identification card.
- Nearly $10 million to cover anticipated workers compensation claims spurred by COVID-19.
- Nearly $3.5 million for economic development programs
I am not only the Senate Majority Leader, I am also one of our community’s local State Senators. I was proud to fight for my constituents and for all of Westchester County throughout this budget process. I was able to ensure that Westchester County schools did not incur any funding cuts, which included stopping a proposed $12 million cut to Yonkers City School District. I was also able to restore over $2.2 million for the Westchester County Police and restore funding for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley to continue the important work they do. I also worked tirelessly to restore funding to both the Westchester County Youth Bureau and Westchester County Jewish Community Services among other important community originations. I will continue fighting for our local communities, school districts, small businesses, and struggling families.
My district office will remain closed, but my staff and I continue to work to keep you all safe and informed. You can contact us by phone: (914) 423-4031 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also access information about COVID-19 through the state’s 24-hour hotline: 1-888-364-3065.
New York State Senator, 35 District
President Pro Tem, Majority Leader