NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Who is the best steward of money, the people or the politicians? Unprecedented federal funding is flooding states and communities, and now there is a debate on Long Island regarding fair distribution.

The most responsible way to spend the windfall in pandemic-related cash was debated among some Herricks High School graduates.

“Families were definitely hardest hit during this pandemic. It should definitely be based on income brackets,” Nassau County resident Roshni Barkui told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Monday.

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Under the American Rescue Plan, Nassau County is getting $385 million over two years, and from the federal CARES Act another $103 million.

“If they can do this the right way and actually, you know, supplement people who were hard hit by this pandemic,” resident Jordan Romano said.


At issue, $100 million of the cash splash is being pledged by County Executive Laura Curran — $375 checks — to the 300,000 households that qualify under the Star rebate program.

“If in fact we cannot give those checks to 300,000 Nassau residents, they need to know,” said Richard Nicolello, presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature.

When the Republican majority got wind the checks might be held up, that residents who make as much as $500,000 might not be eligible, they pounced on the Democrats’ plan.

“We are looking for some clarification in order to get to some higher-income levels,” Deputy County Executive for Economic Development Evlyn Tsimis said.

“It sounds as though we are going back on that promise and it is a source of tremendous frustration,” Republican County Legislator Steve Rhoads said.

“We are meeting with the Treasury Department this week. I’ve been speaking with Sen. [Chuck] Schumer, who is helping with this. As soon as it is ready to go and is ironclad, we will to the Legislature for their consideration,” Curran said.

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Critics say sending checks to every homeowner earning less than $500,000 a year means plenty of money will go to people who suffered no economic loss through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Others want the money spent locally.

“I think that any break homeowners can get is wonderful. I don’t see any issue for people earning under $500,000,” Nassau homeowner Gillian Coupet said.

It’s small relief from high taxes, COVID, and the cost of living.

Jennifer McLogan