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Cuomo: Next Two Weeks Will Determine State Budget Cuts

Photo from Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that, after several months of asking Congress for state aid, New York is now at the end of its rope and could be forced to make billions of dollars of cuts to its state budget if that funding doesn’t come through in the next two weeks.

Federal lawmakers are currently divided on whether to provide significant state aid in the next COVID-19 relief package, which could be approved in the next few weeks.

"If we don't get state aid from Washington, it's going to be a very bad situation for this state and the people of this state," Cuomo said.

New York is projecting a $14 billion budget deficit due to lost revenue as a direct result of the pandemic, Cuomo said. That’s on top of $5 billion that New York spent in its response to the virus, which has largely waned in all areas of the state.

Back in April, the state Legislature approved a state budget that will allow Cuomo to unilaterally make spending cuts based on the amount of lost revenue the state expects. The Legislature can, essentially, block those cuts through a majority vote if they don’t agree with them.

Cuomo, for months now, has been banking on the expectation that the federal government would provide significant aid to the state and local governments in New York, therefore offsetting the lost revenue. But federal lawmakers haven’t come through with that relief.

“They had been promising, promising, promising. It’s not that I was waiting without them suggesting possibility. They have been saying we’re going to do it,” Cuomo said. “Then they didn’t.”

And now, Cuomo said, the clock has run out.

Without an immediate infusion of billions of dollars in federal aid, Cuomo said the state has reached its breaking point and will be forced to make significant cuts to the state budget. He’d previously projected 20% cuts to education, localities, and hospitals.

“I think the drop dead date is the round that we’re in now,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to be this last action, whether that’s in one week or two weeks. But I don’t believe we’re going to get past that.”

Republicans and Democrats in Congress have disagreed over how much relief should be sent to states and localities from the federal government.

While the Democrat-led U.S. House has already approved legislation to make New York’s deficit whole, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate has blocked significant state aid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has equated it to a “blue state bailout.”

Cuomo said Sunday that, last he knew, President Donald Trump was supportive of providing aid to states, but it will take agreement with Republicans in the Senate to bring that idea to fruition.

Congress is scheduled to break for a few weeks in early August, with some version of an aid package expected to pass before then.