Queens Lawmakers on the Move April 8, 2020

Queens County City Council News

Addabbo’s Statement on State Budget

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, parts of South Ozone Park, Ridgewood, Woodside, The Rockaways) yesterday issued the following statement regarding the $177 billion Fiscal Year 2020-21 state budget passed last week.

“This state budget faced us with extraordinary fiscal challenges, even before the Coronavirus outbreak. To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused our state to lose roughly $10 billion in revenue, in addition to its previous $7 billion deficit, and we are not even close to realizing the actual total loss in its negative economic impact,” said Addabbo. 

“Tough budget decisions had to be made to minimize the funding cuts to healthcare, education and other services our people deserve, knowing that we can restore items when the state resumes its positive financial course.

“The difficult budget measures reminded me of the fiscally devastated budgets I worked on in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks and the one during the 2009 recession. In those instances, the city and state restored previous funding cuts soon after witnessing a financial rebound. I expect the same on the heels of the aftermath of COVID-19.

“These are unprecedented times for our state and only by working together will we make it through the uncharted territory we are all in. After the budget is passed, my work doesn’t end, but merely begins, as I will be monitoring the impact the budget has on my district and in continuing my efforts assisting others deal with the virus crisis.”

Barnwell, Nolan Urges Money for NYCHA in Next Fed Stimulus Bill

Assemblyman Brian Barnwell
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan

Assemblymembers Brian Barnwell (D- Maspeth, Woodside, Middle Village, parts of Astoria, Sunnyside, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Long Island City) and Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria, Woodside, Long Island City, Maspeth, Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills and Blissville) joined 24 Assembly colleagues in urging the city’s Congressional delegation to include the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) total estimated $32 billion capital need in the next federal stimulus package.

“Investments in this critical infrastructure have both immediate and long-lasting effects, improving quality of life for residents and while also providing more opportunities for residents to work where they live when Section 3 provisions are in place,” the lawmakers wrote to the Congressional delegation.

“That’s why every dollar the federal government can set aside for NYCHA isn’t just an investment in ‘buildings’ – it’s an investment in the futures of the authority’s residents and of our City,” the letter goes on to say.

NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in the nation, operating 326 developments throughout the five boroughs and housing at least 400,000 low-income tenants, “many of whom work as teachers, police officers, nurses or in retail positions,” the letter notes. “[These residents] are also the bedrock of the City’s workforce, and now, the first line of defense against the novel coronavirus.”

Meng Leads NY Delegation in Demanding Trump Invoke Defense Production Act

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park) led members of the New York Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to fully invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to ensure that frontline health care workers in New York have the medical technology and protection that they need to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The correspondence urges the President to:

  • Fully invoke DPA in order to incentivize manufacturers across the country to make their production lines reflect the needs of hospitals;
  • Increase Department of Defense personnel and materials—such as creating field hospitals or distributing emergency personal protective equipment—to state and local governments; and
  • Provide unrationed COVID-19 test kits with rapid results to health care workers to help keep them safe and on the frontlines.

“As members of the New York congressional delegation, we urge you to dramatically expand the use of the Defense Production Act (DPA), to utilize the broad capabilities of our Department of Defense so we can protect our frontline health care workers,” the lawmakers wrote. 

“Previously, the New York City congressional delegation wrote to you on March 20th urging you to invoke the DPA. While we recognize that you officially invoked the DPA on March 27th in order to spur production of ventilators, there is still much more work to do to meet the needs of New Yorkers,” they added.

Velázquez Presses Bureau of Prisons on Coronavirus Response

U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez

U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Queens, Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) has written the Bureau of Prisons raising concerns with how the agency is responding to the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. prison system. 

Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC Brooklyn), which is in the Congresswoman’s district, is one of the largest facilities in the federal prison system. It is also where one of the first cases of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the U.S. prison system.

“Given tight quarters and other challenges, those detained in our federal prison system are especially susceptible to potential infection,” said Velázquez. “Allowing coronavirus to spread rampantly among the prison population is not only morally unacceptable and inhumane, but it also puts guards, staff and their families at risk, further fueling spread inside and outside these facilities. Walls won’t stop the virus and I’m concerned the prison system could be a potential powder keg of coronavirus infection if BOP doesn’t move fast.”

In her letter, Velázquez noted concerns about shortages of soap and staff protective gear; rotation of guards between quarantined and non-quarantined areas; and staff being instructed to return to work only a few days after being sent home with symptoms like fever.

“In addition to putting in place tangible plans to reduce risk of transmission, we need stepped up compassionate release for at-risk individuals, like older detainees and those with preexisting conditions, who present no public safety risk,” the Congresswoman added.

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