There is little doubt that budgets for essential services will be slashed in next year’s state budget without federal aid to local governments.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and state congressional representatives a letter Wednesday after Republican senators on Capitol Hill released a two-year, $1 trillion stimulus plan — named the HEALS Act — late Monday afternoon to bolster the pandemic-ravaged U.S. economy.
Well and good, but the Democratic-ruled House and Republican-controlled Senate remain locked in an impasse over providing aid to counties and local governments. Approved in May, the House’s HEROES Act would allocate $875 billion to state and local governments wrestling with budget shortfalls and public employee layoffs brought on by the pandemic. The allocations would go to states, cities, towns and tribal governments across the country, regardless of political leadership.
But President Donald Trump again thumbed his nose at what he argues is Democrats coming around with caps in hand looking for a bailout. It’s another unconscionable political game played at a terrible national moment, yet we expect nothing less from this president.
New York state is facing a $30 billion budget deficit over the next two years, with a $14 billion gap anticipated this year and $16 billion the next. That will have an impact felt well beyond 2022.
Under the HEALS Act, schools must be fully funded, regardless of the state budget deficit. Sounds good, right? Wrong. It would be good for education, but it would mean hospitals and local governments would be forced to absorb an even greater cut. As a result, the bill would pit New Yorkers against each other in a money grab for whatever funding is available.
Again, this is inexcusable.
The National Governors Association on Wednesday renewed its request for the fifth time in three months — and twice in the last week — for $500 billion from the federal government to rebuild state economies. National Governors Association Chairman Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, and Cuomo, the association’s vice chairman, issued the joint statement April 12, April 17, May 12 and July 22.
The clear message here is that New York is running out of time to prop up its wobbly economy. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, in another context, there are no more tomorrows.