Governor Kathy Hochul has not shut the door on replenishing the Excluded Workers Fund. The $2.1 billion fund was established by New York State as a stimulus for undocumented, immigrant workers who didn’t qualify for the first three stimulus checks issued by the federal government.
The program was criticized by conservatives and celebrated by progressives. However, one major miscalculation by state leaders was the speed at which the fund would be tapped out.
“The money that we had — $2.1 billion — was an extraordinary amount of money,” Hochul said this week. “We don’t have that level of money available to deploy something like this.”
The miscalculation came when state leaders estimated how many undocumented, immigrant workers would qualify for the full value of the stimulus. More than 90% of those who applied qualified for the full, $15,600 stimulus check.
Now, the state is left with millions of applicants waiting for additional funds.
Advocates and some state lawmakers say that another $3 billion will be added to the fund next year, but that budget won’t be adopted until the spring. It could mean another year of waiting for workers who lost income or saw it stop entirely during the pandemic.
Even if lawmakers took the issue up as a separate piece of legislation it would be until January before a vote. “The money would have to come with the Legislature and that doesn’t start until January anyhow,” Hochul said. “So, we’re trying to work it out through alternative means.”