Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted angrily Monday to news that a new plan to be released by Republicans in the U.S. Senate will not include aid to states and local governments hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Republicans, who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, are unlikely to propose additional money in their federal stimulus proposal for state and local governments suffering economic impact from the pandemic.
Democrats, who are in charge in the House, want to include up to $1 trillion in aid.
Cuomo is one of several governors calling for help to close their state’s multibillion-dollar deficit. In New York, the over $13 billion gap is mainly due to plummeting state revenues when most businesses shut down this spring. Many have only partially reopened.
He said he’s disappointed by the GOP plan.
“I think it’s devastating news for the entire country,” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.
Cuomo continued to make the argument that the federal government benefits from states like New York, which give more money in taxes to than it receives back. The governor in the past has feuded publicly with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, and he called out McConnell and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has also opposed giving more aid to Democratic-led states.
“Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul are federal ‘bag men,’ to use a different expression. They take more federal money for their state than they put in,” Cuomo said. “They’ve been taking New Yorkers’ money for years, putting it in a bag in Washington and bringing it home to their state.”
Cuomo accused New York’s congressional Republicans of “turning their backs” on their constituents and urged them to stand up to the Senate leadership and ask for more aid for New York, instead of commenting in what he characterized as “little tweets.”
The governor did not mention the names of the House members, who include the North Country’s Elise Stefanik and western New York’s Tom Reed. Cuomo warned that the November elections are coming soon, and state residents will remember what happened.
Cuomo has threatened to slash aid to schools, local governments and hospitals by as much as 20% if the federal aid does not materialize. On Sunday, he said he might have to follow through with those plans in as little as two weeks.
“The drop-dead date is this round that we’re in now,” Cuomo said.
On July 24, Cuomo had said that if the state had to, it could last as long as late August before final decisions on how to balance the state budget have to be made.
Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for the governor's Division of the Budget, later clarified that while the next two weeks are crucial in determining what Congress will do, the state could last a little longer without making further cuts because it has already enacted a number of belt-tightening measures, like freezing workers' pay and temporarily banning new state contracts or hires.
The governor’s remarks come as the rate of the virus continues to remain low in New York, with a 1.06% rate of infection, and 11 deaths from the virus on Sunday. Visitors from 31 other states with high rates of infection are required to quarantine upon arrival.
The governor warned that compliance with safety rules, including mask wearing and social distancing, is key. He said 27 bars and restaurants in the downstate area were issued notices on Sunday for violating limits on the number of people at gatherings, bringing the total number of tickets issued over the weekend to 132. And he said repeated violations could mean a loss of the businesses’ liquor licenses.