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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 20, 2021

After advocating for nearly 10 months for such a measure, State Senator George Borrello says he is pleased by Tuesday's passage of legislation that will help protect small businesses from being penalized with higher unemployment insurance premiums due the COVID-19 shutdown.  Borrello advanced a version of the measure as part of a package of small business relief legislation and also co-sponsored a stand-alone version of the bill with State Senator Pam Helming.

Borrello spoke during a Senate hearing in October about helping small businesses where he noted that the impending increase in unemployment premiums would likely result in an unprecedented doubling of premiums in a state where rates are already among the highest in the nation.  The measure awaits action in the State Assembly.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state may sue if Congress doesn't send $15-billion dollars in unrestricted emergency COVID-19 aid.  Cuomo says the pandemic has changed the fiscal landscape a lot... and, has left that large a hole in the state's budget.  With that... the Democrat Tuesday introduced two different 2021-22 budget proposals, depending on whether Congress provides New York with $6-billion or $15-billion.  If it's the $6-billion, he says drastic measures would still have to be taken.

However... Cuomo says that's still not enough -- even if you increase the top income tax rate by 2-percent.  He says that would only produce $1.5-billion more.  Cuomo says President Joe Biden is proposing a total $350-billion in state, local and tribal aid in his COVID Relief proposal... and, if the state receives 4.3-percent of that funding -- it would total $15-billion.  New York is facing a dramatic loss in both sales and income tax revenue in the wake of sweeping COVID-19 restrictions.

The new Cockaigne Ski Center near Cherry Creek officially opens for the first time since fire destroyed it's lodge almost a decade ago.  According to it's Facebook page... the Cockaigne Resort will open at 3 this afternoon with several inches of fresh, new snow... and, they anticipate all trails being open.  Operators also say the far side of the Jelly Roll beginners trail will be open, along with their new Terrain Park.  Officials add that their Snowmobile Park will also open today at 3 PM.  For more information on hours and COVID-19 protocols... call 287-3223.  We have a call into Ski Center Manager Jason Spann.  They also remind people that January is Learn To Ski Month at Cockaigne.

There were three new COVID-19 related deaths over the three-day, Martin Luther King, Junior holiday weekend in Chautauqua County... bringing the local total to 50.  The county's Health Department reports 373 new cases between last Friday and Monday... with 89 cases in Jamestown, 87 in Dunkirk... and, 37 in Fredonia.  Health officials say there have now been 5,796 cases since the pandemic began... and, 847 are currently active.  Officials say 1,952 people are currently in quarantine... and, 4,899 cases have now recovered.

Local Congressman Tom Reed is among the federal lawmakers attending today' inauguration festivities for President Joe Biden in Washington, D-C.  Reed adds that he will continue to try and work with Democrats to resolve the issues facing the nation.  He also says he remains a proud Republican... but, adds that he continues to work for "common ground."

Reed says he believes Republicans can work with the Biden administration on going to a more FEMA-based approach on COVID-19 vaccine distribution.  The inauguration is being held under unprecidented security... but, the Corning Republican is confident it will be held with few if any problems.  He praised the presence, and work of the National Guard to secure the capitol.  The additional security comes in the wake of ongoing threats of violence during the inauguration after a large number of Trump supporters stormed the capitol on January 6th.