Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday called a memorandum from President Donald Trump to provide supplemental unemployment relief to individuals “laughable,” saying a provision of the measure that requires states to foot part of the bill was unworkable.
In a call with reporters Sunday, Cuomo again pushed for Congress and the White House to come to an agreement on legislation that would provide direct aid to state governments.
"They need legislation, it's the only way to do it. If they don't get it passed, if the president isn't willing to get it passed, it's just an additional failure,” Cuomo said. "My advice: when you're in a hole, stop digging.”
New York, which remains the state hardest-hit by the coronavirus, is projecting a $30 billion budget deficit over the next two years because of lost revenue. That’s on top of $5 billion spent by the state on its response to the disease, and other deficits from state agencies.
Cuomo said the memorandum from Trump, issued late Saturday, would cost New York an additional $4 billion to provide benefits to unemployed New Yorkers.
That’s because the order, the result of failed negotiations between Congress and the White House, requires states to pitch in 25% of the cost of a supplemental $400 payment to unemployed workers. The previous $600 supplemental payment expired last week.
"The concept of saying to states that you pay 25% of the unemployment insurance is just laughable," Cuomo said. "The executive orders will not be a substitute for legislation.”
Trump also approved other memoranda and an executive order to defer student loans, preserve a federal moratorium on evictions, and defer payment of the payroll tax that funds Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Democrats, who hold a majority in the U.S. House, have reached a stalemate with the White House and Republicans in the U.S. Senate over a new round of stimulus funding last week. It’s unclear when the federal government is expected to resume negotiations on the package.
Republicans have argued against providing direct aid to state governments, like in New York, saying those states had mismanaged their finances long before the pandemic, and that the federal government shouldn’t be held responsible for those choices.
Cuomo, for his part, was relying on Congress and the White House to provide billions of dollars in aid to New York to avert a financial crisis in the state. Without that funding, Cuomo’s warned of major cuts in state spending for education, local governments, and hospitals.
When asked Sunday when those cuts would be made, Cuomo didn’t give a deadline. He’s previously said this latest round of negotiations was the last the state could survive before any major decisions on spending.