Is NYS considering extending bonuses to other frontline healthcare workers?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The New York State budget includes $1.2 billion in funding to provide frontline healthcare workers with bonuses.

News10NBC has been reporting on the program since it was announced but the state has still yet to provide many specific details as to when people who qualify will start seeing the money. There are also some frontline healthcare workers upset they don’t appear to be included. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in Rochester on Monday, so News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke was able to ask her about the bonuses directly.

Jennifer Lewke – People are wondering when they (bonuses) are going to start being distributed and it looks like there has been some folks who’ve been left out—medical residents, environmental services, the folks in the hospital serving food—are you re-looking at adding them at all and do you have a timeline?

Governor Kathy Hochul – We had a finite amount of money available through one-time-only COVID money from Washington and we thought that the smartest thing to show appreciation to Frontline workers, the nurses who had to go literally in the line of fire, the burning building so to speak during the pandemic to help lift up their salaries and show our appreciation so it was a finite group of people who were literally on the front line based on the amount of money we had available.

There are 94 job titles that qualify according to the budget document and Assemblyman Josh Jensen (R, 134) says—it shouldn’t be that difficult to add a few more.

“We have over a 220 billion dollar budget in New York State and it seems like every day the federal government is announcing more and more COVID-related funding and relief for states,” he told News10NBC, “certainly, I believe we should use some of that money to ensure fairness when it comes to retention bonuses for health care workers.”

The state health commissioner and budget director do have the ability to add job titles according to the budget document.

“It is my hope that despite her answers today, the Governor, as well as the Commissioner of Health, do listen to the same people who are calling me and expressing confusion and disappointment that they are valued less than other employees, that’s not the way we should look at this in New York State,” Assembly Member Jensen said.

As for those whose job titles are already listed?

Governor Kathy Hochul – This was literally just passed in the budget a few weeks ago so it does not come out that fast but I’ll check on it and see if we can expedite that for those individuals because I know they’re going to be very appreciative of what we did for them this year.