By Anna Gronewold
05/15/2020 03:20 PM EDT
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is placing his trust on a blend of “common sense” and politicians’ thirst for reelection in Congress to avoid looming cuts to health care and education in New York.
Cuomo on Friday changed his tone on the 20-percent, across-the board cuts he’s been warning about for weeks, saying now that the House Democrats’ proposal for direct aid to state and local governments could spare his ax.
“I have faith in humanity — a certain level of common sense — and I believe Washington, despite their dysfunction and politics, will ultimately provide funding for state and local governments,” he told reporters during his daily briefing in Albany.
Local leaders and officials have been bracing for at least $8.2 billion in spending cuts at local levels, which were supposed to be released “mid-May” following the state comptroller’s April cash report due May 15, according to the budget office.
But on Friday, budget director Robert Mujica said that while the comptroller’s reporter confirms a stark outlook the budget office released last month — a 14 percent revenue decline and $61 billion deficit over the next four years — an updated budget outline will now likely be contingent on a chunk of cash from Washington because “it would be irresponsible not to provide those resources.”
House Democrats are expected to move a $3 trillion package Friday that would earmark $500 billion for state governments and $375 billion to localities, numbers largely in line with what Cuomo and the National Governors Association have requested.
But large portions of the legislation are expected to be ignored by the GOP-controlled Senate, and even if funding for state governments is included, New York was scheduled to begin moving forward with its spending cuts before Congress is likely to coalesce around a compromise.
Cuomo says he believes both Republicans and Democrats will be prodded by their constituents to send aid to state and local governments.
“Even if you put aside common sense, the survival instinct of politician who has to run for reelection this year in this state or any state affected by Covid — which is most states — they will not come home and stand for reelection if they can’t provide funding for state and local governments because they would have created a devastating circumstance in their state,” Cuomo said.
An updated budget plan based on more federal cash and, if necessary, the details of any cuts, will now be released “within the month of May,” Mujica said.
“In the event that those funds don’t occur, then we will have to make those reductions, but as the governor said, we believe based on the bill the House put in, those funds will be there,” he said.