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Lawmakers unimpressed with Cuomo’s budget, concern grows over $15B ask from Washington

Legislators from around Upstate New York responded hardly to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget address, which was delivered on Tuesday. The state is facing an unparalleled set of circumstances, and its future financial health hangs in the balance as the presidential inauguration takes place.

Gov. Cuomo outlined two options: One that included $15 billion in federal bailout money, and another that included less – around $6 billion in federal help.

“The presentation we saw from the Governor today was bizarre and frustrating. They lack specifics. He failed to make decisions on pretty much anything. Instead, he seems to be depending on what the Federal Government will do and begging for more resources,” Sen. Tom O’Mara said after. “Yes, we need results from Washington and we need help from them. But we must have a plan going forward. A realistic plan based on numbers that aren’t just out of thin air.”

He says the $15 billion ask from Gov. Cuomo is not an accurate reflection of the state’s true deficit. “We need the leadership in this state right now. To move forward as New York and together and not pointing fingers at each other,” Sen. O’Mara added.

Assemblyman Brian Manktelow called the entire ordeal disappointing. “It is disappointing to see the governor continue to point fingers as to who is to blame for the enormous deficit this year’s budget holds,” said Manktelow. “In years past, we have steadily maintained a deficit in the budgets. So, while the pandemic did affect it more this year, he should be taking a decent amount of the blame for all the ridiculous programs and funding he doles out time and again We also heard little on what the backup plan should be if New York receives only $6 billion in aid or what budget cuts would specifically be made, which is scary. New Yorkers have a right to know where he plans to make these cuts to help close the gap in the deficit. We need to come up with a realistic backup plan should we not get the full aid that will best help New York’s financial situation get back on track.”

Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay wasn’t impressed either.

“What the governor offered today was not a budget presentation. It was more regurgitated rhetoric that we’ve heard over and over, punctuated by a desperate plea to the federal government for a $15 billion bailout. For all the talk of ‘leadership’ that comes from this administration, most of the morning was spent passing the buck on to Washington D.C.,” he said after. “The state’s significant budget crisis is well known. What remains less clear, even now, is exactly how we’re going to solve our considerable fiscal problems. Harsh budget realities have existed for several months, but today, we received a pair of proposals that simply extend the wait-and-see approach filled with contingencies and little clarity.”

He pointed to the challenges and tough decisions that families in Upstate New York have had to make throughout the pandemic; and the lack of tough decision-making on the side of state leaders like Gov. Cuomo. “With the challenges in front of us, tough decisions will have to be made. Federal help is necessary, and I have advocated for it. But threatening court action unless those resources are provided is hardly a reliable strategy, nor does it qualify as responsible budgeting,” Barclay added. “The economic devastation caused by COVID-19 and ensuing lockdown orders put New York’s budget into a state of disarray. Unfortunately, as the state faces so much uncertainty, two major items were sorely missing today – definitive answers and accountability.”

“The Governor has rightly recognized the need to support important constituencies such as small businesses, restaurants and farmers, and get our economy moving again. I agree that New York deserves its fair share from the federal government, and this is something I have advocated for in my conversations with our federal representatives,” Sen. Pam Helming (R-54) said in a statement. “But that does not mean New York can default on its responsibility to better manage the state’s finances and get spending under control. Proposals such as the legalization of mobile sports betting and recreational marijuana are getting a lot of attention, but would only give the state a fraction of the revenue needed to balance the budget. As we evaluate the proposals on the table, we must do so with the interests of our local job-creating small businesses, schools, communities and taxpayers in mind.”