Rep. Joe Morelle believes Congress very likely will need to pump even more money into the Paycheck Protection Program and also rescue state and local governments when lawmakers consider the next round of emergency funding to keep businesses afloat.
The CARES Act passed in late March included $349 billion in funding for the PPP, and another infusion of $310 billion was made by Congress last week. Still, all of the money soon will be allotted.
“I suspect we’re going to back and do another round because I think this traunch is going to be fully signed up for probably in just a few days,” Morelle (D-Irondequoit) said Wednesday afternoon during a webinar sponsored by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, by the time the next batch of small business borrowing takes place, the June 30 deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program will be upon us.
“That June 30 date is going to have to be extended,” Morelle said.
Just as important will be ensuring states, counties and towns have the necessary funding to maintain services and meet payroll obligations. That must be addressed in the next emergency bill, Morelle said.
“We need to get more money into the hands of the states,” he said. “Most of the money goes to local assistance, whether it’s economic development or helping children with developmental disabilities or health care systems. Those are all where the dollars come back to in our respective communities. So we have to help our local governments with their revenue shortfalls.”
Congress eventually will need to roll out another funding plan to ensure the economy starts rolling again.
“It’s really how do we stimulate this economy,” Morelle said. “I’m hoping we do a fairly significant infrastructure bill, not only roads and bridges, but also broadband. We’re thinking about our energy grid, health care infrastructure.
“Let’s use this as an opportunity to repair infrastructure that badly needs repair and also think about using it as a workforce training opportunity for people who are looking for career changes or upgrading their skill set.”
Of course, all of these emergency funding packages are simply adding to the federal deficit that on Wednesday was $24.7 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Dept.
“Despite the fact we continue to run a significant deficit, I think that people understand that, long term, this will help rebuild the economy and get our tax revenues coming back in to the state government and the federal government,” Morelle said.
New York’s economic restart will be gradual. Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants just two sectors, manufacturing and construction, to ramp back up on May 15.
“And then there will be a two-week period before additional businesses are allowed to open,” said Vincent Esposito, regional director of Empire State Development. “Every industry is going to have put in place new safety measures with regard to testing, monitoring and the ability to maintain distancing in the workforce as it reopens, whenever that happens.
“It’s all going be a case of watching how the reopening of various industries impacts … hospitalizations, positive test rate and rate of transmission, so reopening the economy doesn’t lead to another outbreak.”
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