Nassau County Executive Laura Curran called on the Legislature to “cut their summer vacations short” on Tuesday so they can return to vote on a measure she proposed that would provide eligible homeowners with direct payments of $375.
Curran’s proposal, also known as the Household Assistance Program, would provide direct payments to upwards of 400,000 homeowners as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Legislature, which has been on break since Aug. 2, is not scheduled to return for “weeks”, according to Curran.
“Instead of waiting another few weeks and stalling the process even further, let’s take action now,” Curran said on Tuesday. “The Household Assistance Plan will not only help those who continue to struggle but also provide a meaningful boost to our local economy.”
Households with a total income no greater than $500,000 that have proof of suffering a negative economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic will also be eligible for the payment, Curran said.
Documents such as receipts of unemployment benefits, food or housing insecurity, increased child-care expenses, coronavirus-related death expenses or unreimbursed remote work/learning expenses can be submitted through the Boost Nassau online portal.
The payments will only be sent to homeowners who already receive the state’s STAR or enhanced STAR exemptions, officials announced.
Curran’s proposal to provide homeowners with direct payments has been in the works since late spring. Curran presented modified plans to the Republican-controlled Legislature in late July that would send the one-time payments to households with a total income of up to $168,900, a revision from initial plans to dispense payments to households with a total income no larger than $500,000 proposed in May.
After Curran’s initial proposal, members of the legislative majority addressed concerns and sought more clarity from the proposal from county officials during a June hearing.
Some of the questions asked by Presiding Officer Rich Nicollelo (R-New Hyde Park) to the seven representatives of the Curran administration were left unanswered.
Nicolello’s inquiry as to if anyone in the administration had sought guidance from Treasury consultants or legal counsel on whether the payments would be feasible was met with silence.
“In my 25 years here, I have never seen this before,” Nicolello said regarding the lack of answers from administration officials. “The problem is, in case you’re not able to issue those checks as the county executive told people on May 17, at some point we’re going to have to explain that to the residents of Nassau County.”
Majority Spokesperson Chris Boyle said the Legislature will ensure everything is in order before any approval is made.
“After the county executive had to change her initial plan because she failed to get guidance, and after the failures in the assessment rollout, the Majority is going to do its due diligence to make sure that this is not just another botched initiative,” Boyle said in an email to Blank Slate Media.
Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman, a Republican running against Curran for county executive this year, has compared the direct payments to “peanuts” in various Facebook ads.
Curran responded in her press conference, saying her plan “is not peanuts.”