New York didn’t get remotely as much cash as Gov. Cuomo wanted from the $2 trillion federal corona-relief bill, but $3 billion is an OK start — and more aid bills will be coming from DC.
Cuomo faces some tough decisions putting out something that pretends to be a state budget by the April 1 deadline, but it’s silly to blame Sen. Chuck Schumer and the rest of New York’s congressional delegation for it.
Most important, Schumer landed the MTA a $3.8 billion bailout that will get it through the next few months — avoiding an end to subway service and a default that would have created an additional national crisis as the municipal-bond market collapsed.
The Senate minority leader also negotiated to bring billions in direct payments to local hospitals now stretched to their limits.
Cuomo charged Thursday that the bill “did not help local governments or state governments, and it did not address the governmental loss.” Sorry, gov: It didn’t help you with the $6 billion gap you faced before the crisis blew a further $15 billion hole in the coming year’s plans. You’re going to have to get creative — your announcement of a possible quarterly slashing of state payments to just about everyone is a fine start.
Another must: You have about a week to nix an impending 2 percent state pay hike that New York simply can’t afford. Legislative approval would be best, but use your emergency powers if you must. It’s clearly a necessary part of the Empire State’s response to an outbreak that’s wreaking havoc with New York’s economy, slamming the state and local tax take.
The Empire Center’s EJ McMahon calculates that freezing scheduled raises for all state and local government employees will save close to $1.9 billion in the next year. That will help avoid layoffs for these workers, when unemployment is soaring and much of the private sector will be seeing pay cuts as well as furloughs.
The progressives who run the Legislature will scream at all spending cuts, but this is suddenly a new world. Adapt to reality, or the voters will find themselves some new lawmakers.
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