The efforts of our essential workers during the last several weeks have been nothing short of heroic. Grocery clerks and pharmacy employees, law enforcement officials and first responders, and especially our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have delivered for us when we’ve needed them most. We can’t possibly thank them enough.
In the coming weeks and months, more and more New Yorkers will join them in the workforce as we plan to ease emergency restrictions and move to re-start our economy. We need to help our small businesses now so they can hit the ground running when we re-open our region again.
Late last month, Democrats and Republicans in Washington put aside partisan issues and political differences to pass a sprawling stimulus plan to begin to stabilize an economy in crisis.
In the coming days, both houses of Congress are expected to authorize an additional $450 billion package to help small business owners keep their employees on their payrolls. It’s the sort of bipartisan cooperation citizens should expect, particularly in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis.
Our Assembly Republican Conference is hopeful that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join our effort to deliver a similarly cooperative state-level investment. Our “Jump-Start New York” initiative would provide small businesses with zero-interest loans, access to emergency capital and relief from crippling regulations and costly fees.
Whenever you unveil a policy proposal, the first question you’re likely to field is “how will you pay for it?” It’s even more prescient at a time when our economic standstill has slashed state revenues.
The answer is simple. It’s about priorities. We’re repurposing existing tax credits, budgetary allocations and state settlement funds.
We think it’s more important to invest in restaurants, small manufacturers and farms than provide corporate welfare for Hollywood film studios.
Instead of allowing the Regional Economic Development Councils to lavish politically connected firms with state contracts, we’d rather repurpose them into small business recovery hubs. And instead of allowing any of our state’s unclaimed settlement funds to be wasted on political campaigns or television ads for the governor’s economic development programs, we’d rather provide capital to small-business owners who want to stay afloat and keep their neighbors on the payroll.
We know we’ll continue to have political disagreements with Democrats in the Senate and Assembly.
That doesn’t mean we can’t come together during a moment of crisis to protect middle-class New Yorkers from a catastrophe they didn’t create and from economic suffering they don’t deserve.
State Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square)