New York's fiscal options are limited amid a downturn in the economy created by the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged on Tuesday, as he continued to hold out hope for some form of federal aid.
Indeed, help from the federal government in the form of a bailout for states hard hit by the pandemic is "option A" for New York, Cuomo said during a news conference in New York City.
Raising taxes on the rich? It's something Cuomo for now won't consider as he continued to support such a move on the federal level.
But way down the list, "option C," as Cuomo put it on Tuesday, is a mix of spending cuts, borrowing and, yes, "revenue raisers" if those other measures do not come to fruition.
"I'm not giving up on the federal government funding," Cuomo said at the news conference.
But it's also likely states and local governments could be in line for some "short-term relief to get us to next year" which could include a Biden administration more friendly to Cuomo's push for aid.
Option C is a scenario some in the Legislature have privately discussed as the most realistic option. The dauting math for New York won't just be fixed with a tax hike triage, but a budget surgery that uses multiple tools.
New York faces a multi-billion budget gap and a funding crisis for its major transit network in the New York City region.
Cuts in spending are expected to affect every sector that state government funds, from education to local governments and non-profits that provide services to developmentally disabled people. Layoffs are already being considered in mutliple school districts across the state.
Budget gaps in future years are expected to take extend into the billions of dollars as well.
The third-term governor is facing calls from advocates and from within the Democratic-controlled Legislature to hike taxes on the wealthy to soften the blow.
Cuomo doesn't want to raise taxes on the rich or at least publicly support doing so because it takes away the bargaining chip with the federal government, he indicated on Tuesday, worried it would make Congress and President Donald Trump's administration less inclined to act on New York's behalf.
He also doesn't want to potentially force the handful of wealthy filiers New York relies on for its personal income tax revenue to flee the state.
"If you have to raise revenues, better you do it nationally," Cuomo said. "Why would you make one state raise taxes and put it at a competitive disadvantage with other states?"
So for now Cuomo doesn't want his hand forced, even as Congress continues to negotiate and stall on the latest coronavirus relief package that is expected to be the final one of the year.