PIX11

‘Excluded workers’ end hunger strike after budget includes $2.1 billion fund

NEW YORK — Advocates for so-called excluded workers celebrated the New York state budget announcement Wednesday.

A fund expected to total $2.1 billion is going to be started for those who haven’t been able to access state funding during the pandemic. For some, it ends a 23-day hunger strike in protest for the fund.

“We are satisfied that we were able to win $2.1 billion, because in our homes, we will be able to get our kids what they need and we will be able to get them food,” said activist Ana Ramirez Torres through a translator.

As other New Yorkers received stimulus funds and unemployment, these workers had no assistance. Many of them are undocumented.

This is a two-tiered fund that will require proof of lost income and New York residency. It will face scrutiny before money is distributed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wants both the state comptroller and attorney general to review it to help prevent fraud.

“We want 100% integrity for tax dollars. Until the AG reviews and signs off on the program we will not implement the program. We want New Yorkers to know we are doing it smartly.”

Assemblywoman Carmen de la Rosa was the main sponsor of the original bill.

“This is a community that will not risk their stay here in order to commit fraud,” de la Rosa said in response to the governor’s remarks.

The state senate has already approved the bill. The assembly will vote on it later Wednesday. De la Rosa is confident it has the votes to pass.