By Robert Pozarycki
When the House passed in May the HEROES Act designed to bring billions to cash-strapped New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the Senate to pass it posthaste — warning that “there will be cuts” without the financial aid.
The HEROES Act never got to a Senate floor vote, not long after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described it as a “blue state bailout.” The Kentucky senator has since put forth a $1 trillion alternative COVID-19 relief bill, which President Trump dismissed as “semi-irrelevant.”
Congress and the White House are now attempting to negotiate a new, two-year financial stimulus package to help the country recover from the massive, pandemic-related recession. But on Thursday, during a conference call with reporters, Cuomo repeated his warning that New York needs major financial help from Washington — and without it, the state will suffer the consequences.
Cuomo didn’t go into specifics, but he said that without $30 billion in federal aid over the next two years, he’ll have no choice but to “take very dramatic actions” that even he believes will be counterproductive to New York’s economy. Yet the governor said he would not hesitate to make them because “we don’t have a choice.”
When he made his May warning about cuts, Cuomo indicated that the state’s schools and health care system, as well as local governments themselves, were at risk of major cuts without federal relief.
During his Aug. 4 conference call, Cuomo said that Congress and the White House were essentially deciding New York’s state budget for the next two years in negotiating a new round of COVID-19 financial stimulus.
“Normally, when they pass a bill in Washington, it’s unclear what the consequences are,” Cuomo said. “But this piece of legislation is unlike any other. They’re deciding the state budget. You tell me what they pass in the bill, and I will tell you the consequences in New York.”
The governor stressed that a lack of help for New York and other state and local governments will result in an even deeper economic recession for the entire country through resulting layoffs and agency cutbacks.
In addition toward seeking $30 billion for New York, Cuomo also called on Congress and the White House to provide the MTA $12 billion in assistance over the next two years, and the Port Authority $3 billion support. Without that funding, these authorities will also need to take dramatic action, according to the governor.
“And I want to be clear on that [New York’s funding need], because the next day, after [the bill] passes, when I say we’re going to do x, y and z, nobody should be surprised,” the governor warned. “It will be a pure function of the legislation they pass in Washington.”
As for the COVID-19 pandemic in New York state, Cuomo said the progress remains good. Of the 72,000 tests performed on Aug. 5, just 0.9% of them came back positive for the virus. Approximately 570 New Yorkers are hospitalized with the illness; three died of it on Aug. 5.