Cuomo to Congress: Don’t abandon Americans

On Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to congressional leaders, calling for a renewal and expansion of federal support programs for out-of-work residents.

“Since March, more than 68 million Americans have filed unemployment claims, representing over 42 percent of the nation’s workforce,” he wrote.

He went on to praise Congress’s swift action in spring to address the economic impact of the pandemic. “However,” Cuomo wrote, “as we enter the holiday season — and as states once again enact stronger measures to stop the surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — Washington’s inaction is putting millions of Americans’ financial security at risk.”

When the CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security] Act was passed in March, Cuomo noted, roughly 10 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. “Today,” he wrote, “that number has increased by 600%”

Cuomo called for seven federal programs to be renewed or extended through the end of Fiscal Year 2021. Cuomo said this could largely be accomplished by passing the HEROES [Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions] Act, which the House of Representatives had passed in May.

Republicans had objected to the $3 trillion expenditure, which would have provided aid to state and local governments.

Not extending the programs, Cuomo wrote, “is akin to abandoning millions of Americans in their time of need.”

The letter is signed by Cuomo as both the governor of New York State and as the chair of the bipartisan National Governors Association.


Comptroller’s reports

Cuomo’s letter came on the heels of two reports released this week by New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

His report — the fifth in a series — on New York’s balance of payments for the Fiscal Year 2019 concludes that taxpayers in New York “consistently send billions of dollars more to Washington than we receive back from the federal government.”

The current report shows “The state generated over $265 billion or 8.1 percent of the $3.3 trillion in federal tax receipts. By contrast, the $241 billion in federal spending the State received represented 5.9 percent of the nationwide total, the same as New York’s share of the U.S. population.”

The report features a map of the nation that shows the per capita balance of payments between the federal government and the states. Besides New York, five other states have a deficit: California, Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

The states with the biggest surplus include: New Mexico, Virginia, Mississippi, West virginia, Alaska, and Alabama.

DiNapoli’s office also released the latest number on local government sales-tax revenues, which declined by 5.2 percent in October compared to the same month last year. October’s sales tax collections totaled $1.4 billion for counties and cities, or $74.4 million less than in October 2019.

This drop was less severe than previous declines since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, DiNapoli noted, particularly in the spring when collections fell by double-digits. Still, declines in local sales tax collections continue to mount, and overall local government collections in 2020, from January through October, are down nearly $1.6 billion (10.4 percent) compared to the same period in 2019.

“Statewide local sales tax collections have declined year-over-year for eight straight months,” DiNapoli said in a statement, releasing the report. “Our local governments are on the forefront of the pandemic response and they need financial aid from the federal government to help them get through this crisis.”

Meanwhile, the bipartisan New York State Association of counties is holding a press conference on Monday urging “unity in the face of re-intensifying public-health crisis”

“Turn down the heated rhetoric, put partisanship aside and work together to defeat the resurgence of the novel coronavirus,” urges the notice from the association.

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