New York is facing a $15 billion budget deficit, the largest in its history.
Lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo stand divided, however, on how to make up this revenue shortfall.
Cuomo during his State of the State Address pointed to the federal government for failing to provide resources in the fight against COVID-19 and said it is up to Congress then to provide the aid.
“Washington passed the buck without passing the bucks,” Cuomo said. “And again in December, Congress failed this nation when it failed to pass state and local financing during their last legislative session.”
Yet, fiscal experts point to history.
After the great recession in 2008-2009, the federal government only provided less than 30 percent of funding needed to offset the deficit at that time.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, while hopeful for federal aid, said the state cannot continue to wait.
“We need to rebuild our economy,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We can’t just wait for Washington. I don’t know what they’re going to do. We know we need their help and I think the governor laid out very clearly why we’re in this situation and that we have been a donor state, we all know that. But by the same token, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to look at what we can do.”
Cuomo threw cold water on a few revenue raising proposals, including increasing taxes on millionaires, saying it would only generate $1.5 billion a year.
This was met with immediate backlash from progressive groups and democratic lawmakers, who have been pushing for these items.
State Director of the Working Families Party, Sochie Nnaemeka, says tax raising proposals on the ultra-wealthy would actually generate around $12-18 billion a year.
“I think there is a little bit of political math that is happening right now just based on a willingness to look for budget cuts rather than looking for new revenue,” Nnaemeka said. “Whether it’s through a wealth tax or corporate taxes, there is ample revenue to be raised, if there is political willingness to do the math and to raise it.”
While Republicans are staunchly against increased tax proposals of any kind, Democratic leaders have also been hesitant to voice strong support for any specific bill.