U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited Oneonta on Wednesday, March 31, to talk with local leaders about how money from the federal American Rescue Plan will benefit the area.
According to a media release, Schumer used the unannounced meeting to give details of the plan to Dennis Craig, acting president of SUNY Oneonta; Margaret Drugovich, president of Hartwick College; Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig and David Bliss, chairman of the Otsego County Board of Representatives.
Schumer, a Democrat, reportedly said the institutions of higher education in Otsego County will receive more than $19 million. Specifically, SUNY Oneonta will receive an estimated $15,766,000 and Hartwick College will receive an estimated $3,377,000.
“As New York’s colleges, universities, and students face over a year of unprecedented hurdles, they do so at a steep cost that it is the federal government’s responsibility to address and overcome,” Schumer said in the release. “In prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, New York’s higher education institutions, like SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College, have ripped massive holes in their budgets and are now facing down financial devastation — and we simply can’t let that happen.”
Schumer said public and nonprofit schools will use half of their award on emergency financial aid grants to students to help them with college costs and basic needs like housing, food, and health care. The other half of the funds will allow institutions to provide additional student support activities and to cover a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll.
“I was pleased to meet with Senator Schumer and fellow local leaders to discuss the needs of higher education and our regional economy,” Craig said in the release. “This is an important conversation for Oneonta, where our colleges are among the largest employers. I appreciate the senator’s time and am encouraged to have his support as we work to move SUNY Oneonta and the region forward.”
“Senator Schumer’s advocacy for the needs of Otsego County and the needs of Hartwick College students is inspiring,” Drugovich said. “He leads by example and in a manner that instills confidence in government. Leadership matters and the senator demonstrated his leadership again today by making it a point to hear directly from those he represents.”
Additionally, Schumer detailed the American Rescue Plan’s tentative impact to New York as more than $100 billion dollars. The deal includes the additional round of direct stimulus checks for tens of thousands of Otsego County residents, on top of aid to help schools safely reopen, vaccine distribution, pension relief, an expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, new rental assistance, agriculture and nutrition assistance, direct local fiscal relief and a dedicated relief fund for the restaurant industry.
Schumer also said the American Rescue Plan will send about $68 million in direct payments an estimated 27,000 households in Otsego County.
As part of the deal, the release said, more than more than $11.54 million will go to Otsego County and an additional $1.53 million to the City of Oneonta. New York state government will receive more than $12 billion to help with the state’s budget shortfall, he said.
Herzig thanked Schumer for his work on the federal legislation. “The senator’s support of the American Rescue Plan will help our families and businesses to survive and then thrive as we emerge from pain of COVID,” he said.
Bliss, too, praised Schumer. “The inclusion of this critical funding would not have happened without the leadership and continuous advocacy of Senate Majority Leader Schumer. We look forward to working with him on expanding our broadband infrastructure, which is a priority for both the senator and myself,” he said in the release.