American Rescue Passage Brought Swift Deposits Of $1,400 Direct Payments for Tens of Thousands Of Finger Lakes Residents; Millions More Dollars Coming To Independent Live Venues, State & Local Aid, Rental Assistance, Pension Relief, And Historic Child Tax Credit Expansion

Deal Is On Top Of $150+ Billion Schumer Already Delivered To NY Earlier In Pandemic Relief Legislation; Researchers Say Rescue Deal Will Also Cut Child Poverty In Half, Significantly Impacting Rochester’s 48% Of Children Living In Poverty

Schumer: Finger Lakes To Get Big Slice Of $100B Pie

Standing at the Bug Jar in downtown Rochester, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that ‘help is on the way’ to the Finger Lakes region as he detailed specifics from the American Rescue Plan he just led to passage in the U.S. Senate. Using the Bug Jar as a backdrop, Schumer explained that even more for New York’s live independent venues which are eligible for their own, DIRECT, federal pandemic relief, thanks to a provision he championed.

The Save Our Stages provision included an additional $1.25 billion for independent live venues, performing arts organizations, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions and included a critical fix that allows venues to access a PPP loan and a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, deducting the PPP loan amount from the grant amount. Schumer said the additional funding and technical fix would be a lifeline for New York’s independent venues, hard-hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, a venue had to choose between getting a PPP loan or a Save Our Stages grant.

Just last week, SBA announced that the Save Our Stages program will open to applications on April 8th after Schumer’s continued press to implement the program. SBA also released an updated PPP application that now allows venues to apply for a PPP loan as well as a Save Our Stages grant, as Schumer intended with the fix included in the recent COVID bill.

“Independent venues, like theaters, concert halls, and cinemas, are the beating heart of New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the Upstate economy. These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic, are struggling to stay afloat, and will be among the last to fully reopen, costing jobs and leaving a giant hole in the fabric of our communities,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I made sure this relief bill included a swan song – additional reliefs dollars to boost the Save Our Stages legislation and a critical technical fix to allow venues to access PPP and flexible grant support. Getting federal dollars into the hands of struggling small businesses, like independent venues in the Finger Lakes, not only makes sense, but it’s the curtain call needed to keep small businesses like the Bug Jar going.”

The Bug Jar specifically has had no revenue in the past year and was forced to lay off all of their employees, rendering them unable to benefit from a PPP loan. Without the Save Our Stages grant, the Bug Jar was facing permanent closure, especially because they have no kitchen or food service facilities and all their revenue hinges on hosting live acts. The senator said that’s why the Save our Stages is so vital to Bug Jar and so many other Rochester venues like Abilene Bar & Lounge in Rochester, Geva Theater, Comedy at the Carlson, Rochester Broadway Theater League’s Auditorium Theater, and movie houses like the Little Theater, the Strand in Brockport, and so many more.

Schumer said that live venues remain one of the hardest hit industries as the state carefully reopens, and dedicated assistance from the American Rescue Plan will save many venues from permanently shutting their doors to the public. It is estimated that by the end of 2020 live venues across the country lost $9 billion in ticket sales alone. The senator said the federal assistance was imperative because independent venues not only drive economic activity within communities through restaurants, hotels, taxis and other transportation and retail establishments, but live events provide 75% of all artists’ income.

The December package included $15 billion to create the Save Our Stages program after Schumer’s tireless efforts to pass it into law. The program, which will be overseen by the Small Business Administration, provide assistance to independent live venue operators, promoters, producers, talent representatives, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. Grant amounts equal to 45% of gross revenue in 2019 for the venue, up to $10 million, can be used for various costs, including payroll, rent, utilities, mortgage obligations, payments to contractors, regular maintenance, administrative costs, taxes, operating leases, PPE procurement, and capital expenditures related to meeting state, local, or federal social distancing guidelines. To ensure the hardest hit of eligible applicants receive assistance, there are two priority application periods. The first 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 90% of gross revenue can apply. The next 14 days, only eligible entities that have lost more than 70% can apply. A reserve of 20% of overall appropriated funds, $3 billion out of the $15 billion provided, will remain available for all other eligible entities to apply for after 28 days. There is a $2 billion set-aside of funds for eligible entities with 50 or fewer employees to ensure smaller applicants are not left out. 

Additionally, Schumer detailed the American Rescue Plan’s tentative impact to New York as more than $100 Billion dollars. The deal includes the additional round of direct stimulus checks for tens of thousands of Finger Lakes residents, on top of aid to help schools safely reopen, vaccine distribution, critical pension relief, an expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, new rental assistance that will be available to Monroe County residents facing eviction starting on April 1st, agriculture and nutrition assistance, direct local fiscal relief to revive the local economy and help solve the Finger Lakes’ budget woes, all of which adds up to essential relief for countless families, workers, restaurants, more independent live venues and small businesses across the state. 

Schumer also highlighted that researchers have said that the American Rescue Plan will cut the child poverty rate in half, which is especially important for Rochester as the city ranks the highest for child poverty among cities of a comparable size, with 48% of children living below the poverty line. This plan:

  • Makes the Child Tax Credit (CTC) fully refundable and increases the credit amount from $2,000 to $3,000 per child age 6 to 17 (and $3,600 per child below the age of 6). An estimated 3.56 million children across New York will benefit from this expanded tax credit, and it will lift 680,000 children in the state above or closer to the poverty line. It is estimated that New York families will receive $7.03 billion in relief from the enhanced CTC.
  • Strengthens the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers, many of whom are in lower-paid but essential jobs on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic response, benefitting 910,000 of these workers in New York. It is estimated that New York families will receive over $786 million will receive in relief from the enhanced ETIC.
  • Sends $22 million in direct payments of $1,400 to over 9 million New Yorkers. That includes approximately $1.4 billion in direct payments for more than an estimated 556,000 households in the Finger Lakes Region. An estimated 344,000 households in Monroe County will receive approximately $ 858 million, an estimated 41,500 households in Wayne County will receive approximately $104 million, an estimated 51,000 households in Ontario County will receive $127 million, an estimated 29,000 households in Livingston County will receive approximately $72 million, an estimated 18,500 households in Orleans County will receive approximately $46 million, an estimated 26,500 households in Genesee County will receive approximately $66 million, an estimated 18,000 households in Wyoming County will receive approximately $46 million, an estimated 16,000 households in Seneca County will receive approximately $39  million, and an estimated 11,500 households in Yates County will receive approximately $29 million.

As part of the deal, more than $23.8 billion in state and local aid will be going to New York, with more than $566.31 million going directly to the Finger Lakes Region – including $206.83 million for the city of Rochester and over $143.86 million for Monroe County. Other Finger Lakes counties like Wayne County are estimated to receive nearly $17.44 million and Ontario County at $21.29 million. New York State government will receive over $12 billion, solving the state’s budget woes.

With 50% of Rochester’s rental units currently occupied by tenants spending more than 30% of their income on housing, Schumer explained that rental assistance, included in the American Rescue Plan, is also a necessary tool of fighting poverty. Thanks to over $22 million that Schumer secured in the December COVID Relief bill and an additional over $17 million in the American Rescue Plan for Monroe County and the City of Rochester, beginning tomorrow April 1st, Monroe County and the City of Rochester will launch the second round of the City-County Eviction Prevention Pilot Initiative (EPPI 2.0).  This funding is a win-win allowing residents to cover past-due rent and future rent payments while maintaining rental streams for property owners needed to maintain this housing. Without this federal aid, too many families would be unable to make payments, through no fault of their own, and be faced with the prospect of being thrown out of their homes in the middle of a pandemic.  EPPI 2.0 builds and improves upon the success of EPPI 1.0, which was launched last summer thanks to funding Schumer secured in the CARES Act and provided over $5 million in rent relief payments to stabilize over 1944 Monroe County households. Changes in the second round of the program include less cumbersome eligibility guidelines to qualify for rent relief; and the ability of landlords to apply for relief on behalf of their tenants with their consent.

The American Rescue Plan also includes $9 Billion for New York’s K-12 Schools – these flexible funds will support school districts in reopening safely for in-person instruction and addressing the many needs that students are facing due to the pandemic. Finger Lakes school districts will receive $404.5 million in total in K-12 support funds.

New York’s Colleges and Universities will also receive $2.6B from the American Rescue Plan, half of which must be distributed to students in the form of financial aid awards to address hardships caused by COVID-19. Finger Lakes colleges will receive $163.8 million in total.

Schumer was able to secure more than $7 Billion in transit funding for New York, with $45.5 million going towards the Rochester Transit Services (RTS), $12,061,336 for Rochester’s Frederick Douglass Airport, and $219,000 for other Finger Lakes airports.

The legislation also delivers critical relief for suffering multiemployer pension plans – which have experienced significant additional challenges as a result of this economic crisis – without cutting benefits retirees have earned. In New York State alone, there are more than 1.3 million participants in multiemployer pension plans, and around 624,600 New Yorkers are participants in plans that are expected to receive relief directly through this legislation.

Schumer was joined by Aaron Gibalski (Bug Jar Owner), Deondra Dukes (Single mother, Rochester business owner, RMAPI’s community cohort member), and Larry Marx (CEO of The Children’s Agenda)

Aaron Gibalski, co-owner of the Bug Jar in Rochester said, “The Bug Jar has been closed for over a year and will likely to be for months to come since most bands won’t tour until 2022 and yet the bills for rent, utilities, insurance and more continue to pile up.  Our fans and patrons have rallied to ‘save the Bug Jar’ because this is an iconic and special place in Rochester where local bands have launched national careers and grammy-winning artists have performed on their way up.  That’s why we can't thank Senator Schumer enough for delivering the Save our Stages Shuttered Venue grant program.  It is a vital lifeline to keep the Bug Jar open and for an entire community of local artists, musicians and the countless behind-the-scene workers to survive these trying times.”

“Beginning in 1935, our country transformed the lives of senior citizens with Social Security and Medicare,” said Larry Marx, CEO of The Children’s Agenda.  “This year, thanks to President Biden and New York’s own Senator Chuck Schumer, our country has made an historic set of commitments to our youngest citizens, too, lifting half of the nearly 11 million children living in poverty today to better futures by expanding the Child Tax Credit and other supports.  That’s especially important here, where nearly 1 out of every 2 Rochester children live in poverty, especially if they are Black or brown -- one of the worst rates in our country.  We are grateful to Sen. Schumer, and hope to count on his skillful leadership as Senate Majority Leader to work together to make these life-changing supports for children permanent in the months and years ahead.”

Rochester mom, small business-owner, and RMAPI’s community cohort member Deondra Dukes said, “The CTC would benefit my family tremendously because my son needs to have access to quality education that would help challenge him and extracurricular activities that I currently can't afford. It's important that we don't make assumptions on what we think people may need but to ask the community, what they need. I'm pretty sure they will tell you that any extra funds to assist with the care of their children is definitely needed, however the families shouldn't receive repercussions from community agencies for the extra help they need.”

“As Majority Leader, I fought hard to ensure this deal sent real relief to the tune of $100 billion to New York for workers, families, farmers, healthcare, small businesses, including our hard-hit industries like restaurants, and communities in Ithaca—the things we need to support in order to weather this crisis and then work to recover,” added Schumer added. “This marks the second biggest stimulus bill in the nation’s history—second to the CARES Act—and it comes just in time, because Finger Lakes residents still need real help to get through this.” 


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