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Cuomo says he'll cut schools, hospitals and local governments without federal bailout


Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging Congress to include money in its next federal aid package to help state governments that are financially decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Republican senators have resisted the proposal. 

The state’s projected deficit from lost revenue, increased spending on health care, and the economic shutdown due to the pandemic is $61 billion over the next four years. Cuomo is asking the federal government to help make up for that loss.

He said otherwise, he’ll have to slash aid to schools, hospitals and local governments.

“That’s police, firefighters,” Cuomo said. “Hospitals are the nurses and the doctors who just got us through this and everyone celebrates as heroes. If you don’t fund the state, that’s who you are cutting.”

Without federal aid, New York is poised to cut over $10 billion from its budget later this month, and potentially could reduce money to schools, health care and local governments by even more than that later in the year.

Some of the other states that are most in need of the aid include California and Washington state, where the rates of infection have been highest. They are also run by Democrats.

But Cuomo said party affiliation shouldn’t matter, and some Republican-led states also have suffered. 

“This is not a red issue, blue issue,” Cuomo said. “This is not about politics.”

Cuomo is sending to Congress a joint letter with Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is the chairman of the National Governors Association, asking for the aid for states and local governments. Cuomo is vice chair of the organization.

Democrats who hold the majority in the House of Representatives unveiled a $3 trillion stimulus bill Tuesday that would give nearly $1 billion to state and local governments.

The house is expected to pass it by Friday, but there is opposition among some Republicans in the Senate to bailing out the states.

GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said that states who are in financial difficulties could consider filing for bankruptcy, remarks that enraged Cuomo. President Donald Trump also has said that he does not want to bail out state and local governments, and has said, falsely, that it’s only Democratic states that are experiencing deficits.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.