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Cuomo threatens cuts without $15B in federal aid

Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 2:49 PM EST
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ALBANY, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Tuesday his state will sue if Congress doesn’t send $15 billion in unrestricted emergency COVID-19 aid.

Cuomo called the fiscal year 2022 budget unlike any other the state has seen, saying it could bring an economic rebirth from the COVID crisis. He presented a hopeful budget that relies heavily on the federal government’s help to pay off costs left on the state from the pandemic. “The remaining COVID cost in dollars is $15 billion. New York cannot manage a $15 billion deficit,” he said.

The governor says he has two plans in place depending on the potential aid that could be coming from the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, $350 billion of which is earmarked to help state and local governments. “How do they distribute that $350 billion and how much of that funding is coming to the New York State government? We don’t know, in short,” Cuomo said.

He is hopeful that the state will clinch the $15 billion needed to clear the state’s deficit, calling it the “fair funding scenario.” “Considering what we went through, I believe it’s a modest request from Washington,” Cuomo said.

The governor says with the deficit paid off, the budget can focus on funding things like education, broadband for all, food insecurity and affordable housing. He is also proposing a $130 million “Pandemic Recovery and Restart program” that will give money to businesses and industries impacted most by the pandemic. “It will also help get the economy back up and running,” he said.

Then there is the “worst-case scenario” plan where the Empire State only gets $6 billion in aid from the new administration. “If that happens -- $6 billion from the federal government -- then we would need to cut and raise revenue of $9 billion,” Cuomo said. “If you don’t invest in the economy and get it running now and you force more cuts, you actually slow the economic recovery for everyone.”

Cuomo said if the federal government doesn’t offer the $15 billion, the state will pursue litigation.

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