ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Leaders across New York State are reacting to the latest COVID-19 stimulus agreement reached by Congress. The $900 billion stimulus package includes $600 payments to “most” Americans, as well as aid to businesses and the unemployed. But, it will not include state and local relief funding.
During a press briefing Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Democrats in Congress were faced with a “Sophie’s Choice” between providing aid for some people, or no one. He says without action tax increases and layoffs will be on the way. “When you don’t fund states and cities, that means cities lay off police officers, and they lay off firemen, firefighters and they lay off teachers,” the governor said.
New York is currently facing a $15 billion budget gap. The Governor has not yet made permanent cuts saying he’d rather hold off on doing the budget now, and wait to see if state and local aid will be worked out once President-elect Biden is in office.
“I’m just concerned that if the Democrats don’t win the two seats in Georgia, that Mitch McConnell could be the same impediment that he has been to… state and local aid. But, Joe Biden has shown over his career that he’s been someone who’s been able to work with both sides of the aisle and that’s what it’s going to take,” said NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay says he’s glad Congress reached a deal. “It’s something I think the country needed. We’re obviously facing a pandemic. The cost to the states have been massive. Obviously people are suffering- small businesses, individuals, so I’m glad there’s some relief for those types of people. I think a lot of my colleagues would say and I agree with them to some extent it didn’t go far enough to help state and local governments, but it is a … $900 billion package,” he said.
Barclay says he does feel that the federal government is in the best position to pay for COVID costs. “But, that being said I’m also a taxpayer and I don’t think so-called bailouts should be used for expenses because of bad budgeting throughout the states including New York,” he said.