Bay Ridge pol to intro bill slashing PPE costs for small businesses

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Southern Brooklyn state Sen. Andrew Gounardes will introduce legislation today that would slash the cost of personal protective equipment for struggling small businesses looking to keep their employees safe.

“The point is to help businesses that are trying to do the right thing, providing masks and other PPE as per the state regulations, and make it easier for them to get it,” Gounardes told Brooklyn Paper ahead of the bill’s introduction on Oct. 19.

The first-term legislator said the new bill would give much-needed assistance to local business owners, who have been forced to bear the brunt of additional costs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic — all while they’ve seen a significant decline in revenues.

“Every little bit that can help [businesses] do the right thing, I think is a no-brainer,” Gounardes said. 

If passed, the bill would allow state officials to purchase bulk amounts of PPE, and then sell them to merchants at cost, without collecting a profit from New York businesses.

“It would allow the state small business department to bulk order on the behalf of small businesses,” Gounardes said. “The state can do a much better job at driving down the costs for these businesses and then passing down the savings to the small businesses.” 

And on top of helping with future purchases, the legislation would also provide a retroactive tax credit to small business owners for the amount they’ve already spent on masks and protective equipment for their employees, the pol said.

The idea, which came from suggestions voiced by members of Gounardes’ small business recovery group, comes on the heels of his push to provide small businesses with access to a health consultant who will guide them through their reopening in July — another brainchild of the small business consortium. 

“This is a topic that we have talked about at a bunch of our meetings,” Gounardes said. “From multiple conversations with business owners in the district, we thought this might be one avenue to make it easier for businesses.” 

As an estimated one-third of all New York small businesses may permanently shutter from the coronavirus-related recession, Gounardes pushed his fellow state legislators to pass the desperately-needed economic help, which would also encourage proper health and safety measures to stem the spread of the virus. 

“They are fighting for their survival,” he said. “Right now we have to be incredibly creative and aggressive in doing every single thing possible to help these businesses stay in business.”