ANN BRANCATO'S PLAN TO EVOLVE OUR ECONOMY INTO A POST-CORONA WORLD
Our unpreparedness for our changing world grows more evident every day.
We are experiencing unemployment at the highest rate since the Great Depression. Even when those who are unemployed try to find a job, employers are using credit reports to hire instead of just a candidate’s merit and qualifications.
Thousands of our besieged healthcare professionals have contracted COVID-19 as their colleagues continue to bravely battle the virus. In Nassau and Suffolk County, there have been over 80,000 cases and 4,500 deaths in the past three months.
We must learn from our mistakes in the past, lessen the effects of our mistakes today, and adapt our system to prepare for tomorrow. When elected to office, Ann will take on these challenges in Albany.
Adopt and Expand the Federal Paycheck Protection Program at a State Level
Issue: The Federal Paycheck Protection Program’s lack of adequate funding is leaving over 950,000 small businesses without aid. For those who are receiving funding, they have the challenging task to find one of the few open banks who are accepting loan applications1.
- Fund full employee wage support for four months for companies who have experienced a 30% decline or greater in revenue stemming from COVID-191
- Design direct emergency grant programs to cover critical expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, and debt service1
- Expand the number of locations for businesses to submit loan applications1
Create a State Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Small Business Lender Loan Buyout
Issue: Community Development Financial Institutions loan money to community businesses. These loans generate a $9 return on investment for every dollar loaned.2 With no action, it is estimated that between 25-75% of small business loans from CDFIs will default or suffer from slow pay. 2
- Absorb all loans of current small businesses in transportation, warehousing, educational services, arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, food services, and retail (excluding liquor and tobacco stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and warehouse stores)as of 3/1/20 2
- Compensate CDFIs for 90% of loan’s total value
- Clients would pay monthly payments of $10 for 5 months and after 5 months would pay 5.5% interest on payments with no prepayment penalties if a lender pays it off before the loan’s duration2
- Pay CDFIs to administrate the accounts with sending out statements, etc. at $20 per loan per month for the first 3 years and $2 per loan per month afterward2
Increase Participation in the New York State Shared Work Program
Issue: During the 2008 Recession, businesses did not widely use the Shared Work program as less than 0.5% took part. This lack of participation by businesses are following those same trends today. This program allows businesses to cut between 20-60% of their employees’ paycheck and use Unemployment benefits to supplement the rest.3 Under the program, employees would retain health insurance and other benefits during the shared work period. 4 It allows employers to keep trained and productive employees during a business downturn and recover quickly as the economy improves.
- Expand the advertising of the program across the state as a better alternative to business establishments laying off workers
- Communicate with the unions and other labor organizations to find more effective ways to implement this program
Creating the Workforce of Tomorrow
Adapt the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant program
Issue: The Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant program funding community colleges to develop or redesign programs to align with local and regional employer needs.5 The World Economic Forum expects within 2 years, the core skills needed in the workforce will change by 42%.5
- Collaborate with unions and employers across the state to find labor deficiencies
- Apply a version of this program to fund reforms within New York colleges and BOCES Secondary Education Trade Programs
- Increase accessibility to employed workers to take part with weekend and evening classes
- Increase participation in these programs with added funding to low-interest loans and scholarships for workers to attend and complete these programs
Studies show that vocational trainings increase the overall income of workers by 7.7% and the rate of employment by 6.7%.6
Helping to Solve the Digital Divide
Issue: More than 32 million adults in the American workforce do not have basic digital literacy skills and fewer than 10% of them are receiving training.7 Meanwhile, COVID-19 has forced many sectors to conduct business online yet many Americans are not confident in that platform. With the growing role of the internet and computers, this is becoming an essential skill for the workforce. Americans who make less than $35,000 a year make up 60% of those without internet.7
- Increase funding to create a free state-wide training with digital best practices for both employers and employees
- Guarantee our future workforce is digitally literate by placing digital education courses in the required state curriculum
- Collaborate with internet providers to supply internet access for all New Yorkers
Increasing Green Infrastructure in New York
Issue: The continual effects of climate change will continue right here in New York. As a state-funded ClimAID study found that in 30 years, the number of days above 90 degrees will have more than doubled from the 1971-2000 baseline.8 Warmer ocean temperatures will cause stronger storms that will hit Long Island and Eastern New York as hard as Hurricane Sandy in 2012. To help reduce the impacts of these storms, New York must innovate its infrastructure to limit the damage from storms and decreasing its damage to the environment.
- Fund green energy tax credits to residential and commercial buildings
- Increase investments into zero-emission public transportation
- Promote reforestation programs across the state
Reducing the Strain on Our Current Healthcare System and Preparing for the Next Outbreak
Issue: The United States was not prepared for a major health crisis. However, the World Economic Forum warns that the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to be the only one. As climate change, globalization, and urbanization increase, the effect will be more widespread epidemics.9
- Form a team of reserve medical workers of not currently practicing doctors, nurses, and specialists to relieve those are currently on the medical frontlines
- Encourage participation in medical training put on by organizations such as the American Red Cross
- Create medical training programs at community centers and on academic campuses
- Utilize the professionals’ expertise to explore the usage of technology for fighting pandemics
- Increase funding to support the mental healthcare for medical workers
Working With Our Unions and Private Sector to Fix Our Infrastructure
Issue: Over the next decade, New York’s infrastructure needs over $200 billion dollars in investment in roads, waste facilities, dams, bridges, aviation, and public transportation.15 However, the New York State Government has been suffering from recent revenue shortfalls which is preventing increasing infrastructure spending.
- Promote the creation of a “Union Credit Union” which would provide capital and work for their members
- Create an infrastructure bond program for private companies, contractors, and unions to invest in state infrastructure programs and receive tax-free interest returns from their investment over the period of their bond’s duration
- Pay off state loans with increasing toll road coverage in New York which will also reduce pollution and promote public transportation usage
Ensuring Fair and Safe Working Conditions for All
Supporting Our Essential Workers
Issue: Essential workers do not have legal protections to ensure that employers cannot force them to work without proper personal protective equipment. They also are under significant physical and mental duress because of working with a much higher risk of exposure to
- Ensure that all frontline workers have access to proper protective equipment10
- Fund state-funded hazard pay of an added $13 an hour to wage frontline workers or an added $25,000 to salaried frontline workers11
When there are government-subsidized wages during economic downturns, it increases overall wages and rates of employment by 16.7%.6
Increase Protections for Domestic Workers
Issue: On April 6th, the unemployment rate of the more than quarter million domestic workers in New York was 68% making this sector the hardest hit in the state12, 13. Only one in three domestic workers believed that after the pandemic ends they would be rehired by their former clients.12 Unlike millions of workers in New York, domestic workers are not covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).12
- Fund direct payments to household employers of domestic workers to give directly to their household workers
- Expand New York Public Employees’ Occupational Safety and Health Standards to include domestic workers
- Amend New York State Paid Family Leave to change the 40 hours or more a week requirement to be eligible for the program to include part-time and seasonal domestic workers
Keeping Blue-Collar Workers Safe
Issue: As a vital sector supporting every other job in society, our country relies on our blue-collar workers to prevent the collapse of our infrastructure. We must make sure that our nation’s backbone is protected and healthy. And so, we must rethink our health practices both on and off the worksite.
- Require contractors to create and publish new health and safety protocols to foster transparency with their workers and clients of how they are protecting the health of the workplace
- Create ‘Toolbox Talk’ safety meetings for supervisors to provide to their workers surrounding workplace health and safe working procedures
- Require daily temperature screenings and other recommended checks from health organizations during health crises such as COVID-19
- Ensure that all workers have access to high-quality Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Tackling the Challenge of Unemployment
Create Jobs for Furloughed and Unemployed New Yorkers
Issue: Since December, the workforce in Nassau and Suffolk counties have shrunk by 22.5%. This leaves more than 300,000 people now unemployed.14 Every day this past week, 195 new people were diagnosed, and 9 people died from the virus.14 Even though these numbers are going down, we must fight to prevent the deaths of our neighbors. We must find a way to address both issues of an unemployed workforce.
- Increase contact tracers to help find those at risk of exposure and help to reduce the rate of transmission
- Employ more COVID-19 testers, caregivers, and temperature screeners
Making It Easier to Find A Job
Issue: As millions of Americans look to find work online, the methods to find a job must adapt to the changing times. Businesses are having to conduct online job searches and interviews. We need to work to help get people safe and fair paying jobs by making it easier to find a new position as soon as possible through public job search tools.
- Create a state program where small local businesses can post job openings online for free in one centralized location and residents can apply and sign up for interviews
- Host a small business virtual job fair on the online platform
- Improve accessibility to resume and cover letter resources on the Department of Labor’s site
- Increase funding for free career counseling
- Send out paper mailers with job offers in different sectors weekly/biweekly to residents supplying access to those without internet access to internet
- Reach out to Human Resources organizations within the region to find open jobs needing to be filled
1Bridgeland, John, et al. “Opinion | The Right Way to Help Small Businesses.” POLITICO, 8 Apr. 2020. www.politico.com, https://politi.co/2M32Q5T.
2Klein, Joyce, et al. CDFI Small Business SVI. The Aspen Institute, 25 Mar. 2020, p. 2. Zotero, https://bit.ly/3egTbVa.
3Shierholz, Heidi. Nearly One in Five Workers Applied for State Unemployment Insurance Benefits in the Last Seven Weeks: Congress Must Act to Mitigate Harm from Unprecedented Joblessness. 7 May 2020. www.epi.org, https://bit.ly/2TFZxFI.
4“Shared Work Program.” New York Department of Labor, May 2020, p. 3.
5Fitzpayne, Alastair, and Ethan Pollack. “Millions of Workers Have Lost Their Jobs, and Some Are Never Coming Back. An Ambitious Approach Is Needed.” The Aspen Institute, 11 May 2020. www.aspeninstitute.org, https://bit.ly/3d8k4e6.
6Yeyati, Eduardo Levy, et al. “What Works for Active Labor Market Policies?” Center for International Development, vol. 10, no. 358, July 2019, p. 28.
7Webber, Alison, and Priyanka Sharma. Building a Digitally Resilient Workforce: Creating On-Ramps to Opportunity. Digital US Coalition, 5 May 2020.
8Colby, Edward. “5 Ways Climate Change Has Already Impacted LI and Beyond.” Newsday, 27 Nov. 2019. www.newsday.com, https://nwsdy.li/3cLonL6.
9Whiting, Kate. “Coronavirus Isn’t an Outlier, It’s Part of Our Interconnected Viral Age.” World Economic Forum, 4 Mar. 2020. www.weforum.org, https://bit.ly/2Y17hn6.
10Bivens, Josh, et al. A ‘Phase Four’ Relief and Recovery Package Should Provide Economic Assistance to State and Local Governments, Extended Unemployment Benefits, and Better Protections for Workers and Jobs. 7 Apr. 2020. www.epi.org, https://bit.ly/3eq7Pth.
11Kinder, Molly. COVID-19’s Essential Workers Deserve Hazard Pay. Here’s Why—and How It Should Work. Brookings Institute, 9 Apr. 2020. www.brookings.edu, https://brook.gs/3gjV0Tn.
12Wolfe, Julia. “Domestic Workers Are at Risk during the Coronavirus Crisis: Data Show Most Domestic Workers Are Black, Hispanic, or Asian Women.” Economic Policy Institute, 8 Apr. 2020. www.epi.org, https://bit.ly/36yXCIE.
13Wolfe, Julia, et al. “Domestic Workers Chartbook.” Economic Policy Institute, May 2020, p. 65.
14“Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Economy at a Glance.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5 June 2020. www.bls.gov, https://www.bls.gov/regions/new-york-new-jersey/ny_nassau_md.htm.
15“NY Infrastructure Report Card.” American Society of Civil Engineers, Sept. 2015, https://bit.ly/2ANGJhl.