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‘Help is on the way’: WNY to receive $1.5B in stimulus checks, $873M in government aid

Tom Dinki/WBFO News
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer discusses the American Rescue Plan Act at a press conference Tuesday morning in Buffalo.

The American Rescue Plan Act, recently passed by the Senate and awaiting approval from the House of Representatives, is set to provide $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief. How much of it will be coming to Western New York?

Officials provided a glimpse Tuesday, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other leaders gathered in Buffalo to discuss the bill’s impact on the region. 


“I simply say to Western New York: Help is on the way,” Schumer, D-NY, said. “It's a historic package that will help just about every Western New Yorker in one way or another.”


The biggest help will be in the form of direct payments. Western New Yorkers, Schumer said, should expect to receive their stimulus checks by the end of the month.


Individuals making less than $75,000 a year will receive $1,400, while couples making less than $150,000 a year will receive $2,800. Families will also receive $1,400 for every child or dependent. 

In Western New York, that will translate to an estimated 615,000 households receiving a total of $1.5 billion.


“One, it helps the beleaguered people who need help,” Schumer said. “Two, it's a real shot in the arm for our economy. Three, it's a promise made and a promise kept.”


The bill would also provide $873 million in aid for local governments. That includes $350 million for the city of Buffalo and $178 million for Erie County.


County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the aid will make up for the lack of sales tax revenue during the pandemic. 


“We cut approximately 300 jobs from the Erie County budget just to balance our budget for 2021,” he said. “Because of the assistance we'll be receiving, we'll be able to restore many of those jobs and bring back many of those services.”


Brian Kulpa, supervisor of the town of Amherst, said the $15 million slated for his municipality will take the burden off taxpayers.


“We can be certain that the money from this municipal aid is going to filter down directly to our property owners in the form of tax cuts and tax stabilization moving forward,” he said.


The bill did not receive a single Republican vote in the Senate. Western New York’s GOP congressmen, Chris Jacobs and Tom Reed, voted against the House version of the bill last month, saying among other critiques that it wasn’t fiscally responsible.


Schumer said when facing a deep recession, most economists agree: You need to put money into the economy.


“In 2008, the last big financial crisis, they spent too little money. We spent five years in a recession. Full job employment didn't come back for six or seven years,” he said. “We're not making that mistake again.”


The bill is expected to be passed by the House as soon as Wednesday, and signed by President Joe Biden sometime this week.  

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.