Stefanik announces $30 million in federal virus relief for North Country

Local News

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) announced new federal relief funding for North Country colleges and airports Wednesday, and also called on congressional leadership to be more flexible with seasonal businesses.

Airports across the North Country will receive a total of $5.9 million in CARES Act funding, while colleges will receive $26 million. More than half of the education funding will go to students in the form of financial aid grants.

“I’ve had numerous conversations today with our college and university presidents about how they are grappling with this, what their planning is the rest of the year and their need for additional federal funds so I anticipate that will be a part of a future package as well,” Stefanik said in a conference call on Wednesday.

Stefanik said there isn’t enough being done for seasonal industries like recreation, tourism and landscaping because their potential needs over the next few months may exceed what current funding mechanisms offer.

Under the CARES Act, relief for small businesses is determined by their average monthly payroll in 2019. Seasonal employers, however, have to calculate their average costs based on 12-week payroll starting either February 15 or anytime between March 1 and June 30.

Stefanik and other representatives explained their concerns in a letter to congressional leadership.

“For many businesses, the seasonal employer window established under the CARES Act does not allow for the full extent of their spring and summer payroll costs to be accurately captured in the Paycheck Protection Program,” the letter stated. “The resulting limitation on lendable funds directly impacts their ability to adequately compensate employees and maintain operations.”

Stefanik was also asked about President Trump’s decision to freeze funding for the World Health Organization after blaming them for mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. was the group’s largest contributor.

“I’m very concerned that in the early days of this, the WHO put out misinformation and propaganda from the Chinese communist party including false information saying that this couldn’t be transmitted human-to-human. We know how damaging that misinformation was,” Stefanik said.

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