Reporter: Moses Kuwema
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a letter Friday asking New York's Congressional delegation for fair and proportional funding in the next COVID-19 aid package that helps New York State and localities, repeals the SALT cap, provides relief, mortgage relief, and helps restaurant workers.
Governor Cuomo asked the Congressional delegation to avoid politics by funding state and local governments based on need, directly funding governments rather than bypassing them to fund schools, hospitals and organizations directly.
Governor Cuomo said the COVID relief bill that Congress would pass shortly was paramount to New York state and nation's recovery.
"Unlike any other year, the federal COVID relief bill will determine New York's state budget. State and local deficits can only be satisfied by Washington. The New York state budget requires 15 billion dollars to avoid massive tax hikes, layoffs, education cuts and healthcare cuts," Governor Cuomo stated. "Every economist projects negative economic consequences if that occurs. Remember the prior COVID legislation passed under Trump – the so-called Cares Act bills – were not truly targeted to COVID relief but funded states virtually regardless of COVID need and thus were a boondoggle for Republican states and short changed Democratic states."
Governor Cuomo said New York was ground zero for COVID because of the federal negligence that allowed COVID to come to New York for months undetected.
He stated that the damage done in New York was exponentially higher than any other state.
"It is insulting to New Yorkers for anyone to suggest the COVID relief bill should become a typical pork barrel exercise. Target federal assistance the way COVID targeted its victims. New York deserves a disproportionate amount of COVID relief because New York suffered a disproportionate amount of damage. By any metric, New York would receive a larger proportional share of President Biden $350 billion in state and local aid," Governor Cuomo stated. "If Congress distributed the $350 billion funding by the number of lives lost to COVID, New York State would receive $20.7 billion and local governments would receive $13.8 billion. If the distribution formula reflected COVID related unemployment, New York State would receive $15.1 billion and local governments would receive $10.1 billion. Ironically, even if Congress was wholly political and disregarded all legitimate need factors and distributed only by a state's population – which would be a repulsive policy – New York State would still receive $12.4 billion and local governments would receive $8.3 billion."
He stated that if the federal government needs revenue to fund COVID relief and reconstruction, it should raise taxes on the wealthy.
Governor Cuomo said forcing individual states to raise taxes to meet their need would be compounding the injustice.
"In the new Zoom reality, people and businesses are more mobile and are already working remotely. Raising taxes in any one state puts that state at an economic disadvantage," Governor Cuomo stated. "The states' hit hardest by COVID, and which received insufficient aid from the Federal Cares Act funding, are Democratic states. A national tax increase avoids a race to the bottom among Democratic states. If New York does not receive $15 billion to close the state deficit, we will have no option but to lay off workers, cut education and healthcare and raise taxes."
And Governor Cuomo stated that Congress should avoid old school politics adding that the federal government directly funding schools, hospitals and local institutions is duplicative to state and local funding of these same entities and does more harm than good because those same entities will suffer state cuts, layoffs, and tax increases. He stated that direct federal funding compounds what he termed the regressive policy by reducing the amount of funding state and local governments can provide to struggling schools and poor hospitals.
Governor Cuomo stated that the simplest way to target funding equitably is to provide it through state and local governments.
"At a minimum, funding provided by the federal government should be an offset to state and local financing obligations and follow state formulas," he stated.
Meanwhile, on the State and Local Tax (SALT), Governor Cuomo stated that the legislation was unconstitutional and the first double taxation in history.
He stated that New York State was still in litigation against the federal government to end SALT adding that repealling the legislation was a priority because it costs New Yorkers over $1 billion in additional taxes, every month.
"COVID-19 has hit thousands of homeowners and renters particularly hard. While eviction moratoriums put into place by my administration early on in the pandemic, and further extended in partnership with the legislature more recently, have staved off massive evictions and foreclosures, this approach is merely a stopgap. It is not possible for any state to address this crisis," Governor stated. "Any recovery package passed by the Federal government must include a real solution to the looming eviction crisis and help New Yorkers struggling due to COVID-19 stay in their homes. Finally, the restaurant industry, which is the lifeblood of New York, must be saved. For too long, restaurants and bars were forced to shutter as a result of COVID-19. The federal government must provide real financial support to restaurants statewide to ensure they are able to reopen and support the tens of thousands hardworking men and women they employ."