(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has consistently stated that the public health crisis facing his state dwarfs by far any worries about the condition of the economy and the state budget.
But he acknowledged Thursday that regardless of its relative importance, the state budget poses a problem that has to be addressed soon – and with worryingly incomplete information on how to address it.
“We’ve been focusing on the public health facts, and the response of the public health system to the virus. … We also have to deal with the economic situation,” he said during his daily briefing in Albany.
The governor once again criticized the upcoming federal relief bill, saying that it failed to take into account the condition of state and municipal budgets all across the country.
“The stimulus bill helped unemployment insurance, and that is a good thing,” he said. “It helped small business, and that is a good thing. But it didn’t help state and local governments.”
Cuomo was dismayed, he said, by provisions that restrict what state aid exists in the stimulus package to addressing COVID-19 response measures. While that is helpful, he said, it doesn’t tackle the problem of significantly reduced state revenues caused by the widespread halt to economic activity.
“What they did failed to meet the governmental need,” he said. “I find it irresponsible. I find it reckless. … Now is the time [for lawmakers] to actually step up, do the right thing, and do your job. And they haven’t here.”
With an April 1 deadline looming for the state budget, Cuomo said that they would adjust revenue projections downward from his budget proposal from earlier in the year to try to address a projected $10 billion to $15 billion deficit. And he said that the state would, for the first time, perform updates to the budget on most likely a quarterly basis to reflect the revenue picture as it unfolds in real time.
“We have to address this revenue loss,” he said. “You have to do a budget with all those unknowns.”
Meanwhile, on the public health front, New York continued to set daily records for the number of coronavirus tests performed, number of new cases diagnosed and number of deaths reported.
The 6,448 new cases diagnosed since Wednesday’s total brings the state’s cumulative number of diagnoses to 37,258. Cuomo emphasized that given that the outbreak has been going on for several weeks now, a good number of those diagnosed cases have most likely resolved, with those patients going back to normal.
The number of deaths jumped by 100 since Wednesday to 385. The governor said that was expected, and should be expected to continue to rise, as some of the earliest infected cases continue to linger on ventilator support.
“The longer you are on a ventilator, the more probability of a bad outcome,” he said. “We now have people who have been on a ventilator for 20 days, 30 days. The longer you’re on a ventilator, the more likely you’re not going to come off a ventilator.”
Cuomo also had a few words for anyone who might be struggling with having to be confined to their homes for an extended period of time.
“The situation is not easy, but easy times don’t forge character,” he said. “It’s the tough times that forge character. … This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. We always said this is not going to be over quickly.
“Believe me, I feel tired,” he added. “But when I feel tired, I think of the first responders who are out there every day.”