New York will have to make significant budget cuts in the coming weeks without federal aid to local governments, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, and investigators enforcing the state’s COVID-19 mandates at New York businesses will issue violations to more than 100 downstate establishments for noncompliance.
The governor renewed his plea Sunday for federal aid to be sent to state and local governments following economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic to prevent a minimum 20 percent cut to schools, hospitals and localities. New York faces a roughly $14 billion budget shortfall and has spent roughly $5 billion combating COVID-19 to date. Officials said in May the state needs $61 billion in federal support.
New York’s deadline to make significant budget cuts is looming within the coming weeks, Gov. Cuomo said, as U.S. senators continue to negotiate the $3 trillion federal HEROES Act coronavirus relief package House Democrats passed in May.
“I think the drop-dead date is this round that they’re in now,” Gov. Cuomo said during a telephoned pandemic briefing Sunday morning. “They have been promising, promising, promising. They have been saying we’re going to do it, and they didn’t.”
President Donald J. Trump and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, have said this week they support funding state aid. The pair and other Republican representatives railed against federal aid to localities earlier this year, saying the federal government should not have to “bail out” Democratic states ravaged by the virus this spring. Congress enters recess Aug. 7.
The governor called for all state Republican representatives to place pressure on federal lawmakers to support the people of New York and provide relief to local governments. “It’s going to be this last action, whether that’s in one week or two weeks, but I don’t believe we’re going to get past that,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor expressed concern about the additional $600 unemployment check benefit, slated to end this month.
“That is really going to cause havoc and tremendous stress for people,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Washington is playing politics. There’s a gridlock — they don’t even have a proposal on the table. They’re about to end unemployment for people.”
State police and the State Liquor Authority are increasing patrols and investigation to ensure businesses enforce the state’s coronavirus mandates, such as social distancing or wearing face masks in public. SLA will issue violations to 105 downstate and New York City establishments Monday in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties.
“Literally in every county in downstate New York they have had violations,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They’re going to be doing additional suspensions tomorrow.”
The SLA Board decides to suspend a business’ restaurant and liquor license, or suspending operations.
SLA issued violations to 37 New York City establishments Friday after more than 1,100 compliance checks on Long Island, in Queens, Manhattan and several New York City neighborhoods.
U.S. Reps. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Ms, who chairs the Committee on Homeland Security, and New York’s Kathleen Rice, D-4, chairwoman of the Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Subcommittee, announced Saturday they will investigate false statements U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials are accused of making earlier this year regarding the department’s decision to ban New York residents from federal Trusted Travelers programs, including Global Entry.
Gov. Cuomo called for the U.S. Department of Justice and Congress to launch an investigation into the matter Friday.
“You look at the effect — it’s clear they were playing politics,” the governor said Sunday. “It’s clear they were trying to exploit New York. They hurt the economy, they slowed down people in airports when coronavirus was coming.”
The governor has not spoken with Mr. Thompson or Ms. Rice about the investigation.
“It’s a clear abuse of government,” Gov. Cuomo added of the state’s six-month-plus TTP ban. “I think they lied.”
Also on Sunday, the governor commented on the passing of TV host Regis F. Philbin, who died Friday night. He was 88.
Gov. Cuomo met Mr. Philbin, a fellow New Yorker, several times.
“He was just a beautiful person and he was a great home for this country,” Gov. Cuomo said. “He was positive, he was energetic and optimistic and welcoming. He brought that gift. He was a gift to this country.
“He made us all proud, not just as New Yorkers, but as Americans.”
Officials are exploring allowing new drivers to take the state’s required five-hour course before taking a driver’s test digitally, or via Zoom. The decision is expected this week, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa said.
State officials continue to monitor New York’s COVID-19 numbers as the virus soars in 35 states across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The state reported eight fewer virus patients in New York hospitals Sunday, bringing the total to 637 hospitalized — the lowest since March 18.
Three New Yorkers died from the virus Saturday, down from 13 Wednesday. The state’s virus-related fatalities have fluctuated below 15 per day for several weeks.
The state reported 536 new COVID-19 cases, or about 1 percent positive, of the 53,568 tests conducted Saturday.