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Walsh disappointed in lack of federal funding for local governments

Tom Magnarelli
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, left, with Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said Thursday he was very disappointed there was no aid to local governments included in the most recent federal stimulus package. He said while businesses and hospitals need the federal cash infusion, county and city governments need it as well.

"We provide those basic essential services we’ve talked about in recent weeks. Police, fire, the health department," Walsh said. "Think about where we would be as a community if the county was not in the position to fund the health department the way they need to. That’s what’s on the line here."

Walsh said Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) have said they support federal aid to local governments. 

In a virtual town hall with Gillibrand Thursday, Katko said there is no question that federal funds need to get to the states and he knows Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse are getting crushed. He said he disagrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said states with budget shortfalls should consider bankruptcy.

“I don’t think that’s the answer to anything,” Katko said. “I’m not sure we have money for every single thing. But we got to try to find a happy medium and try and get some help to the state and local governments in a proportional manner.” 

Walsh estimates the city has lost 20 million in revenue because of the fight against COVID-19. Onondaga County has already furloughed hundreds of workers, and estimates of lost revenue range to more than 30 million dollars.

Walsh spoke during Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon's daily briefing to the media on COVID-19. He reported the county's 23rd death from the disease. A woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions died yesterday. There have been a total of 724 cases of COVID-19 in the county. 42 people are currently hospitalized, 12 in critical condition. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.