Gov. Andrew Cuomo was seeking the equivalent of a political bank shot: Joe Biden wins the presidency, Democrats gain control of the U.S. Senate, and New York gets a friendlier Washington that could lead to direct aid for a beleaguered state budget.
On Wednesday, the verdict came in: The Democrats have full, if narrow, conrol of Washington with victories by both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a pair of runoff elections in Georgia.
Hours before Ossoff's victory in was declared, Cuomo in Albany ran through a list of grievances with the federal government under Republican control: A $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, a lack of infrastructure investment for Buffalo and Syracuse, a system that redirects federal tax dollars out of New York, a fight over driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
"New Yorkers have been crime victims, as far as I'm concerned, by the theft of the federal government," Cuomo said on Wednesday at a news conference. "Our message to Washington is going to be very clear: We want a return of the state's property that was stolen by Washington over the past four years."
At the very least, a Democratic U.S. Senate — the chamber will be tied at 50-50 with incoming Vice President Kamala Harris acting as a tie-breaking vote — will mean an altered landscape for New York.
Cuomo has an ally in the president-elect. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is in line to become majority leader, has had an on-again, off-again rivalry with Cuomo over the years. The governor on Wednesday singled out Schumer for praise.
"This was a very, very big win for the Democratic Senate and it bodes well for the State of New York," Cuomo said.
Four years ago, Cuomo was similarly optimistic about another New Yorker rising to power in Washington. Cuomo was publicly optimistic he could work with the new Trump administration. After all, he reasoned, Donald Trump was a fellow New Yorker who had a stated interest in spending big on infrastructure.
That did not turn out to be the case and the public relationship between Cuomo and Trump quickly deteriorated. Cuomo has complained the federal government under GOP control has punished blue states like New York.
Republicans in Congress, in turn, balked at the idea of aiding state governments, warning against a "blue state bailout."
New York is seeking billions of dollars in aid to close a budget gap that was widened by the COVID-19 pandemic. State and local governments across the country have had tax revenue evaporate as businesses close and people stay home.
That, in turn, could lead to deep cuts in spending for schools, health care and local governments that provide police and fire services.
Cuomo has raised the possibility of a state budget that cuts spending, raises taxes on upper income New Yorkers and borrows heavily. Layoffs of public-sector workers, he has warned, are also possible.
The state budget is not expected to be a pretty one, even given the greater likelihood of a more robust stimulus bill approved in the coming weeks under the new Biden administration.
The state budget is expected by the end of March; another federal stimulus package is expected to be considered by then.