Dromm, Van Bramer Support $12 Billion COVID-19 Relief Plan for Workers and Businesses
City Council Members Danny Dromm (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside) threw their support behind City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) proposed a $12 billion relief plan announced yesterday to help New York City businesses and workers impacted by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
The multi-pronged proposal includes a temporary universal basic income for all New Yorkers, temporarily deferring fees and refunding business taxes, and up to $250,000 to cover fixed costs for impacted businesses. It also includes unemployment protections for those who have had their hours cut, gig economy and freelance workers.
Johnson is calling for the plan to be paid for by the federal government. If the federal government fails to step up, it can be funded by bonds. New York City has a history of selling bonds to rebuild its economy after a disaster, including after 9/11. It was the boost the city needed while we waited on federal aid to come through and was integral to our ability to immediately begin the cleanup and recovery.
Based on the Council’s estimates, over 500,000 workers and more than 40,000 businesses are in the industries hardest hit during the COVID-19 crisis. These businesses generated $40 billion in taxable sales last year.
“We have a plan to bring relief to the hundreds of thousands of NYC workers who have been hit hard by COVID-19. By deferring fees without penalty, refunding business taxes, expanding the safety net and putting money into New Yorkers’ pockets, this plan will ensure that many who need help will receive it. At the same time, it will serve to stimulate our local economy,” said Dromm, chair of the Council’s Finance Committee.
“Our plan takes into account the fact that federal dollars may be slow in coming or may simply not be enough. Regardless of how the federal government acts, all New Yorkers should know that, under the leadership of Speaker Corey Johnson, the Council is stepping up for them in a big way,” he added.
“I applaud Speaker Johnson’s bold plan to address the economic crisis resulting from the Coronavirus outbreak. The plan will help people hardest hit and deliver desperately needed relief, saving small businesses, providing more assistance to those who’ve lost their jobs and providing a lifeline to our cultural organizations and artists. We need big and innovative plans which will lay the foundation for recovery even while in the midst of this crisis,” said Van Bramer, Chair of the Council’s Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations.
Katz Announces COVID-19 Measures For DA Office
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced yesterday announced her office will implement social distancing as the new normal and take other preventive measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
“We must also take into account the safety of our staff here at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, as well as those who visit us and the defendants who come before us. In the coming weeks, the Queens DA’s Office will continue to provide the essential services necessary to keep Queens County’s residents safe while we do everything possible to avoid COVID-19. Therefore, we are operating within the office with a skeletal crew while most of our employees work remotely from home,” she said.
“As we have done from the start of the year, we will continue to evaluate the prosecution of low-level offenses on a case by case basis and decline to prosecute where appropriate. And in light of the new circumstances that we find ourselves in, we will make every effort to consider the impact of each prosecution on both the health and safety of the defendant and the community at large. Applications to the Courts to send arrestees to Rikers will not be made without consideration of the risk that poses to defendants,” Katz added..
Katz said her office is currently reviewing the bail status of defendants who are being held pending trial and is looking at individuals who have little time left on their sentences to see if the interests of justice would be served by their release.
Gianaris Calls For Rent Suspension Amid Coronavirus
State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and parts of Woodside, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven) yesterday called for a 90-day suspension of residential and commercial rent for tenants and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York is doing an excellent job of managing this crisis, but the devastation caused by coronavirus will be far-reaching and long-lasting,” said Gianaris. “We must stay on top of the fast-changing consequences of our efforts to contain the virus, and the millions of tenants in our state cannot be left behind. Suspending rents is a critically important step to help New Yorkers survive this unprecedentedly difficult time.”
Under Gianaris’ proposal, residential and commercial tenants would have 90 days of rent forgiven if they lost their work or closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Evictions in the state have been frozen by a moratorium issued by the Unified Court System and Governor Cuomo has already ordered a 90-day mortgage moratorium.
Gianaris is drafting legislation to enact this proposal but is also calling for its implementation through the quickest means possible, including by executive order if necessary.
Schumer, Pelosi Joint Statement On Coronavirus Phase 3 Legislation
U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released the following joint statement regarding their vision for new legislation to aid those suffering in response to the coronavirus pandemic:
“House and Senate Democrats are united in our commitment to using all tools available to help fight the coronavirus outbreak like the health crisis it is and make sure all workers are protected from the loss of a paycheck or that no family falls into financial ruin because of this pandemic. Democrats support a plan that puts ‘Workers First’, the lawmakers said.
“That means taking bold action to help workers and small businesses first by greatly increasing unemployment insurance and Medicaid, making massive investments to help small businesses survive, expanding paid sick and family leave, and putting money directly into the hands of those who need it most.
“The number one priority is addressing this health crisis, which requires a Marshall Plan to rebuild our health care infrastructure on a continental scale and ensure the resources are there to test and treat everyone who needs it.
“To earn Democratic support in the Congress, any economic stimulus proposal must include new, strong and strict provisions that prioritize and protect workers, such as banning the recipient companies from buying back stock, rewarding executives, and laying off workers.
“We look forward to working in a bipartisan way to deliver for the American people as soon as humanly possible.”