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Cuomo: Recession likely if federal government doesn’t help states, cities fill budget gaps

FILE - NY Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio 12-9-2020
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, seen on a video screen, speaks during a news conference Dec. 9, 2020, in Albany, New York, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo looks on.Flickr / Gov. Andrew Cuomo

By Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday laid out what the state and its cities face if the federal government fails to provide help in the COVID relief bill currently being negotiated on Capitol Hill.

Without billions to fill budget deficits, New York will likely have to lay off thousands of public-sector workers. Even with that, the state would have to enact tax increases that the governor said would hurt families.

New York state needs about $30 billion to fill the deficits it faces because of the pandemic. New York City, too, needs about $9 billion, and other counties and cities face deficits as well.

Cuomo said the lack of federal aid could cause a recession.

“You want this economy picking up, not slowing down,” he said. “Every economist from every ideology says, if they starve states and local governments and make states and local governments lay off workers, you will hurt your economy.”

During his briefing with reporters Wednesday, Cuomo was joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.

Cilento also was among the labor leaders who signed the letter the Cuomo Administration and the state’s Democratic legislative leaders to the New York Congressional delegation imploring them to ensure state aid is included in any COVID-19 relief package Congress passes in the coming days.

“Federal aid has to be proportionate to the damage we’ve already incurred as a state,” Cilento said. “Working men and women in New York have suffered more than any other state in the country and in every possible way. The damage done economically to New York and to New Yorkers is incalculable.”

The letter says if the state doesn’t get at least $15 billion or if New York City doesn’t get $9 billion, “layoffs of essential workers” would become necessary. State and local governments would then also have to borrow funds, a step Cuomo has opposed previously.

Cuomo’s letter also alludes to more will be needed even beyond that.

“We understand that you hope this initial package will fund states through next March at which time a more substantial package will be passed,” it states. “However, we will not make it to March without the necessary funding outlined above.”

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