ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York’s state and local leaders are reacting to reports that Washington’s next $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package is not expected to include relief aid for state and local governments.
“This is a major problem. It’s also a major disgrace. We have been talking about this for months,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said during Wednesday’s virtual press briefing.
The governor says he believes President-Elect Biden “will correct the situation.” For now, the governor says the state “will advance” up to $1.5 billion to organizations that “need the cash flow” through February or March of next year. Currently, the state is facing a $15 billion dollar budget gap. He says that doing the budget now with no federal aid would lead to “extraordinarily high tax increases” and result in “thousands” of layoffs. He says he would rather hold off.
“I favor waiting until next year, because if we close the $15 billion hole this December, I can tell you the cuts to education are going to cause school districts to layoff teachers all across the board. I can tell you hospitals are going to have to layoff workers. I can tell you government is going to have to layoff workers,” the governor said.
Local leaders are also disheartened at the stimulus negotiations. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro calls the deal to leave out state and local aid a “sucker punch.”
“Never before in the history of America, has the federal government left its local government partners to fend for themselves and while there are good things in this package, the failure to provide assistance to state and local governments is a failure to serve the residents and the citizens of America,” Molinaro said.
“We’re in a federal emergency. We’re in a natural disaster, and in natural disasters every single one of them that faced the United States and faces the states is it’s federally funded, state managed and locally executed. That’s how it’s supposed to work in emergency management however federally funded just seemed to evaporate overnight,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario.
The governor also said he planned to speak with President-elect Biden and other governors across the country about the issue Wednesday afternoon.