Excluded employees have fun $2.1 billion fund | High Tales

ALBANY – Jairo Reyes hasn’t eaten in three days. Weak, tired, and starved, he remembered his church when he had trouble concentrating.

Reyes, of Yonkers, was one of hundreds of New Yorkers who took part in a 23-day nationwide hunger strike to raise awareness of funding thousands of government basic workers who were excluded from unemployment benefits or economic checks for people who had to leave their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic had lost.

The hunger pains, Reyes said, were worth it.

State lawmakers have included a one-time fund for excluded workers of $ 2.1 billion in its final budget for 2021-22, which the convention is expected to pass on Wednesday for New York residents who are due after February 2020 due to COVID-related unemployment or inability to work, or a COVID-related death or disability of the main source of income for the household.

“I was very emotional when I first heard about the fund,” Reyes, who does not speak English, said of Jirandy Martinez, executive director of the Mamaroneck Community Resource Center, who translated. “I was so emotional and very happy because what this fund means now is that working-class families can have a little extra income to support their families and get something for their children, food and rent.”

The $ 2.1 billion will come from state tax revenues, including new higher taxes on state millionaires and billionaires that are said to affect about 50,000 out of 19.4 million New Yorkers. The state will deduct $ 2.75 billion from income tax increases this year and $ 3.25 billion from next year.

“I did it to support my community,” Reyes added to the fast. “I knew it would not be just for me to risk my body, but to keep an eye on all of the working class families and communities that had been excluded from their state government and even nationwide for many, many years. I did it for and represented my working class community. “

Approximately 160,000 New Yorkers, including undocumented immigrants and money economy workers, can claim benefits from the Disqualified Workers Fund. Excluded workers include migrant workers, construction workers, janitors and other key workers.

Employees can be entitled to two performance levels, which are granted by a points system with the required documents. Employees must have filed a tax return for 2018, 2019 and 2020 using a valid ITIN number, a letter from an employer with work details or six weeks of payroll to prove residency.

You are entitled to a total of $ 15,600 pre-tax, which is $ 300 per week for 52 weeks in tier one or $ 3,200 pre-tax for tier two.

The benefits are taxed at around 5% or similar to the federal unemployment insurance.

Reyes worked as a welder for nine years, but his employer told him to quarantine twice for two weeks after his father-in-law was infected with COVID-19 last spring. Reyes was not allowed to return to work despite having proven he wasn’t sick. His company’s secretary suggested there are too many elderly people working there and suggested applying for unemployment, he said.

Reyes has a unique tax identification number but no social security number. A social security number is required for unemployment benefit, so he decided to go on strike.

Several government agencies will monitor the program for fraud. The program will not be implemented until state auditor Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Letitia James each conduct separate reviews, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

“It is difficult to do this in a way that can be managed without fraud and that is obviously a major concern for us that we protect every tax dollar,” said the governor during a budget briefing on Wednesday, adding the state filed significant fraudulent unemployment claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DiNapoli and James reviews include program policies, rules, and anti-fraud measures.

“We want 100% integrity for tax money,” said Cuomo. “Until the Attorney General reviews and approves the program, we will not implement the program because we want New Yorkers to know, yes, we are compassionate and do the right thing, but we do it smartly and intelligently, and the approval of the.” Attorney General’s program will do just that. “

James assured New Yorkers that their office issued a statement Wednesday evening to ensure that the fund is distributed through a fair and equitable process.

“After reviewing the banned workers’ legislation in the budget, we believe the Attorney General’s job will be to ensure the integrity of the process by checking that the rules and the process that is being established are constitutional,” said James. “These tasks are in line with our traditional role and we look forward to fulfilling them.”

An individual cannot have received unemployment insurance or COVID-related stimulus tests or federal grants and cannot have earned more than $ 26,208 in the last year to be eligible for assistance.

Republicans and Democrats held tense and lively discussions about the Forbidden Workers Fund as the meeting resumed early Wednesday morning.

Senator Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, railed against the majority of the Excluded Workers Fund, saying New Yorkers convicted of crimes or those without proper documentation should not receive benefits at the expense of state taxpayers.

“People who are aware of this get angry about it,” Stec said on the floor early Wednesday morning. “We were busy shifting paychecks to 39,000 government employees in a matter of hours because we couldn’t agree on that $ 2.1 billion … It really rubs a lot of people the wrong way. The people are legal here, they work hard, they live by the rules, they pay taxes, and they are the ones who will pay the bills. “

The senator voted against the measure.

Republicans in both houses spoke out against the fund and expressed different concerns. Some lawmakers said the $ 2.1 billion would encourage more undocumented immigrants to come to New York. Others, before voting against the Aid to Localities spending bill, argued that the increased taxes on the rich would accelerate the emigration rate in New York, which is the highest of any state in the nation.

Senator Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, said no person is illegal.

“These are beings, these are people, these are workers,” the senator said before voting for the fund he was involved in negotiating. “They’re excluded and they’re important – important because at the height of the pandemic when many of us were stuck at home … who delivered our food? Who picked the vegetables and fruits we continued to eat during the pandemic?

“We’re making history today and I’m proud of that.”

Activists pushed for a $ 3.5 billion foreclosed workers fund, but lawmakers compromised the congregation’s original $ 2.1 billion proposal.

Cuomo’s executive budget published in January did not include the fund for excluded workers. Previously incarcerated individuals are still ineligible for the US $ 2.1 billion legislature deal.

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