By Mark Hallum
The full price tag of COVID-19 on the state of New York is taking shape, much like every other state in the union, and Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking for the full amount of $59 billion from the federal government to keep transit moving alongside government operations.
In a recent letter to the New York Congressional Delegation, Cuomo signed his name next to labor leaders such as Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsen in calling for immediate support, though similar calls since April have fallen on deaf ears.
But now Cuomo is touching on the point that the state itself need $30 billion, while the city has a $9 billion shortfall. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will require $12 billion to support operations over the next few years and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will have to halt work on JFK and LaGuardia airports if it is not infused with $3 billion.
“There is no combination of state efforts that will address this financial crisis without federal assistance. Even if state and local governments cut expenses, increase taxes, and reduced services, the revenue shortfall would still be in the billions of dollars,” the letter stated. “Moreover, forcing state and local governments to take such actions would only further the pain and extend the period of time for the nation’s economy to recover. Virtually all economists agree that forcing state and local governments to lay off employees and reduce services will negatively impact the national recovery. We saw that with the last fiscal crisis in 2007-2009, and we know that it will play out again.”
Included in the ask is funding for the East Side Access and Penn Station, either for the rebuild or the expansion effort. Cuomo expects “thousands” of laborers working to rebuild the city’s two airports to be laid off if PANYNJ is not provided relief.
“We must not lose these jobs and these projects – they are necessary to cementing New York’s economic future,” the letter concluded. “The legislation must also repeal the damaging and offensive SALT tax “reform,” which cost the people of the State of New York as much as an additional $15 billion each year.”
But agreement on a stimulus bill continues to elude not only federal representatives, but also average Americans who have not seen a dime since the CARES Act pumped $2 trillion into the pockets of the populace, but also governments and businesses.
According to Cuomo, there has not been a state tax increase on New Yorkers since he took office. But many are advocating for a wealth tax to harvest funding from New York’s billionaires to fund transit and other projects.