Senate leader: ‘Everything is on the table’ to address budget gap
April 27, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins isn’t ruling out drastic cuts in state spending on health care, education and local government support as New York tries to cope with an estimated $10.1 billion mid-year budget gap.
“I think we’ve got to have everything … on the table, but we certainly do not want to balance our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable, we don’t want to balance budgets on our students, on our already hard hit … communities and middle class,” she told The Capitol Pressroom on Monday. “I think everything has to be looked at.”
Her priority, though, is for future aid from Congress to make up the state’s projected $13.3 billion revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year. “It’s clear that we need to have the federal government step up,” Stewart-Cousins said.
“We can’t tax our way out of this situation, but by the same token we need to assess where we are and what we can do to make sure that we continue to provide the vital services that the state needs and the people expect,” she added.
Without a rescue from the federal government, big ticket state budget items, including aid to public schools and local governments, will likely be on the chopping block next month after the April cash report is released. This process would be initiated the state Division of Budget, with a narrow window for the Legislature to advance its own plan.
“We have to look at what (the DOB is) saying, but cuts to education, cuts to local governments, cuts to health care systems … are a major major concern to all of us, and certainly to our conference,” Stewart-Cousins.
She stopped short of guaranteeing the senate would prevent cuts to education, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said could amount to at least a 20 percent reduction. “I would guarantee that the … senate will take a very hard look at what is being proposed … We will be looking for alternatives,” she said.
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