DUNKIRK — When it comes to funding New York State, the federal government needs to treat COVID-19 like a natural disaster such as a hurricane, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a virtual meeting in Dunkirk Thursday to discuss the state budget.
Repeating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for $15 Billion in federal funding for New York State, Hochul explained, “Washington must treat this as a federal disaster and cover this as if it were a hurricane.”
The Cuomo administration faces two budget options, she warned. One is a worse case scenario in which the state does not get $15 Billion and must make cuts to education, health care and social services, while raising taxes.
However, she said, the federal funding of $15 billion will allow the state to continue on its course.
Hochul said the pandemic has been “devastating in terms of our budget, a loss of revenue, sales tax revenues.”
She maintained that extraordinary expenses related to COVID-19 created additional budget pressures.
In addition, Hochul expressed pride at the level of cooperation among government, business and labor. She called for local governments to take advantage of local assets such as the Lake Erie waterfront in rebuilding an economy that had “great numbers” last year.
She went on to say that the current administration wants to vaccinate at least 70 to 90 percent of all eligible New Yorkers. She said the vaccine supply is scarce compared to how much is needed, saying there are 10 Million New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine, but only 300,000 doses a week are available.
She also discussed facing “systemic Injustices” within the pandemic and COVID-19 care. She did not specifically say what the systemic injustices are. WNY News Now reached out to her office for clarification and Hochul’s staff responded.
Hochul, as she had previously said in Buffalo, repeated that COVID-19 has claimed the lives of almost twice as many blacks and other minorities, than it has whites.
“You can look at a map and see that the entire region has access to high speed inetrnet, but if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter if it’s outside your door,” she said, adding that is why Cuomo capped internet at $15 per month for low-income customers.