Governor urges NY Congressional delegation to fight for Covid aid

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 February 2021 at 8:57 am

Cuomo says funding needed for state and local governments, restaurant industry

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday issued a letter asking New York’s Congressional delegation for fair and proportional funding in the next COVID-19 aid package that helps New York State and localities, repeals the SALT cap, provides relief/mortgage relief, and helps restaurant workers.

The letter asks the Congressional delegation to avoid politics by funding state and local governments based on need, directly funding governments rather than bypassing them to fund schools, hospitals and organizations directly, repealing the SALT cap and helping the restaurant industry.

“These are trying times, my friends, and they are also highly consequential,” Cuomo wrote on Feb. 4. “I believe the COVID relief bill that you will pass shortly is paramount to this state and nation’s recovery. The politics and incompetence of the past federal administration has brought the nation to the brink.”

The Biden administration has proposed $350 billion in direct aid to states and local governments. Cuomo said distributing those funds shouldn’t be a “typical pork barrel exercise.”

New York should receive more than a proportional share of the funding because the state was disproportionally hit by Covid.

If Congress distributed the $350 billion funding by the number of lives lost to Covid, New York State would receive $20.7 billion and local governments would receive $13.8 billion, Cuomo said.

If the distribution formula reflected Covid related unemployment, New York State would receive $15.1 billion and local governments would receive $10.1 billion, he said.

“Ironically, even if Congress was wholly political and disregarded all legitimate need factors and distributed only by a state’s population – which would be a repulsive policy – New York State would still receive $12.4 billion and local governments would receive $8.3 billion,” Cuomo wrote in the letter.

He urged the Congressional delegation to pursue federal funding for local schools, but not through Title formulas which he said don’t address all areas of the state fairly.

The governor also continued to rail against the SALT legislation, calling it unconstitutional and double taxation. The tax cut plan approved in the Trump administration imposed a $10,000 limit on the SALT deduction, so regardless of how much is paid in state and local taxes.

“New York State is still in litigation against the federal government to end SALT,” Cuomo said. “Repeal is a priority as every month costs New Yorkers over $1 billion in additional taxes. Every day SALT is not repealed costs New Yorkers almost $34 million. It must be repealed now.”

Without significant aid from the federal government, Cuomo said the state and local governments will be forced to do layoffs, reduce funding to poor schools, reduce funding to safety net hospitals, and increase taxes – “we will see a situation go from bad to worse.”

He also urged the Congressional delegation to find solutions to the “looming eviction crisis” among homeowners and renters.

And he urged the delegation to provide “real financial support to restaurants statewide to ensure they are able to reopen and support the tens of thousands hardworking men and women they employ.”