New Jersey to get nearly $3 billion in local aid under new COVID relief package
President Joe Biden has signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill to help a nation ravaged by the pandemic.
It is the first major legislation of the Biden administration set to have a major impact on New Jersey, with every town and county expecting to get some federal funding.
The Garden State’s three biggest cities will get the majority of nearly $3 billion in local aid. Newark is set to get $182.6 million, Jersey City will get $145.8 million and Paterson will get $63.7 million.
“President Biden has met the moment, this is our ‘New Deal’ moment,” says Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh. “He’s doing his best to be like FDR.”
Sayegh says that he hopes to use the money to pay for overtime for first responders and help small businesses devastated by the pandemic.
“We do want to help small businesses because they really suffered – restaurants in particular – but then there’s recreation for youth in this city, so there’s measures you can take in terms of anti-violence initiatives are concerned,” the mayor says.
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Paterson is expecting half the money within a month. But the other half won’t arrive for another year.
“Unlike the previous iteration of the stimulus package, we can account for lost revenue with this money,” Sayegh says.
The guidelines of what can and can’t be covered by the stimulus will be released soon. Sayegh says that he personally lobbied New Jersey’s Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, as well as Rep. Bill Pascrell - a former Paterson mayor.
“I was on the phone, if not with them, then with members of their staff. It was more than just advocating, it was agitating,” Sayegh says.
Sayegh says that he vigorously disputes claims from Republicans such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Biden plan is a blue state bailout.
“Everybody’s suffering during this pandemic. And Mitch, you have to have a heart. Seriously, show some compassion. People have been out of work. Children have been out of school. We are at our lowest moment since the Great Depression,” the mayor says. “This is a once in a century struggle that we’re confronted with."
Sayegh says that until the pandemic is over, people will still need relief.