Cutting spending now more than three months before the state budget is expected to pass would get "ugly" with impacts on health care and education, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday warned as the COVID-19 crisis and the budget realities in state government converge.
Lawmakers are considering a return to Albany for a special session that would lead to a tax increase on upper income earners as well as strengthened protections for residential tenants.
The Democratic-led Assembly is expected to meet on Monday to extend its rules for meeting remotely into the new year, NY1's Zack Fink reported.
But the timing for the Legislature will have to be key. Lawmakers do not expect the governor will issue a waiver for the three-day waiting period for new bills and the Christmas holiday approaches.
At the same time, Cuomo remains skeptical of doing a tax hike now before Congress moves to provide direct aid to states. It's not yet clear the size and scope of a tax increase package lawmakers would agree to for a potential session.
Some legislators are calling for taxes to increase for those who earn $500,000 a year; some lawmakers support the increase to start at those who earn $2 million or $5 million.
Progressive groups have pointed to tax hikes that could lead to $35 billion in projected revenue. But a rate increase is seen as the easiest way to capture more revenue. The problem? It wouldn't be enough to close the budget gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If you only do a 1.5 billion tax increase, even if you did a $2 billion tax increase, a $3 billion tax increase, you still have to make up $12 billion in cuts," Cuomo said Friday morning at a news conference. "Is that the right amount? Is that too low? Who would you tax and who would you give the money to?"
The revenue raised on a straight income tax rate hike is a "drop in the ocean," he added.
Cuomo confirmed reporting in The New York Post that he spoke with labor leaders who are pushing for a tax hike in the state budget.
"I spoke with the labor leaders who are most directly involved," Cuomo said, "and they support waiting until April."