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Schumer Touts Stimulus, Dodges SALT And Cuomo During Elmira Visit

ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hosted a press conference in Elmira Monday where he continued taking a victory lap on the passage of the latest COVID-19 stimulus measure, but avoided questions about the state budget and the SALT cap.

When asked if he believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s refusal to resign from office is to blame for the state legislature’s inability to reach a deal on the state budget, Schumer chose to stay out of it.

"I'm not getting into that,” the Senate Majority Leader said. “My job was to get the state the money it needed so it didn't have a deficit and that is ‘mission accomplished.’"

Schumer called on Cuomo to resign last month following multiple claims of sexual harassment and a federal investigation into the governor’s office’s withholding of nursing home death data.

A day before he made that call for resignation, the ‘American Rescue Plan’ stimulus measure was signed into law. The legislation, shepherded through the Senate by Schumer, who is in his first year as majority leader, included $12 billion in funds for the state. As of Monday evening, New York had yet to pass a budget. That could lead to a delay in pay for roughly 39,000 state employees.

On the horizon for lawmakers in Washington is a proposal on infrastructure introduced by President Joe Biden last week. Some Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have indicated they want to see a repeal of the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap in that package. Schumer has previously said he is in discussion with the White House on whether to include a SALT repeal in the infrastructure package, but didn’t tell reporters Monday if Senate Democrats could get behind that provision.

"There's a lot of people who support it,” Schumer said. “I want to get rid of that cap on SALT. It was a dagger aimed at New York and many other states and we'll find the best way to get that cap removed. I believe in that very strongly." 

The press conference Monday was held at the Hill Top Inn overlooking City of Elmira and the Chemung River and primarily centered around relief for restaurants in the most recent stimulus bill.

“The Restaurant Revitalization Fund which is set to assist with our 2020 losses is certain to give us some support, and very needed support, but we still have many challenges ahead,” Mike Sullivan, owner of the Hill Top Inn said.

Schumer also touched on other aspects of the COVID-19 stimulus measure including the funding for municipalities and counties, pointing out that funding was specifically allocated for individual counties so that the state could not intercept any funds.

That notion was echoed by Chemung County Executive Chris Moss, a Republican.

"Hats off to Senator Schumer, his whole team,” Moss said. “I can't tell you how important it is not to have that $16 million coming from Chemung County filter through Albany. Because when that happens, a lot of times we don't see the money or we see it at a reduced rate."

Moss recently told the Elmira Star-Gazette he is considering a run for congress.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.