As coronavirus cases begin to slow in hard-hit New York, the state’s economic health has deteriorated, and it faces a difficult and painful recovery without significant help from the federal government.
The northeastern state of 19.5 million people has seen a record 1.2 million unemployment claims filed in the past five weeks, since the virus started spreading rapidly and the state “paused” its nonessential businesses and workforce to contain the outbreak, leading to a drying up of revenue.
“We are at a point financially where we have a $10 [billion] to $15 billion deficit,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters Thursday in the capital, Albany. “We have real financial problems right now.”
As of Thursday, statewide there were nearly 215,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and more than 12,000 deaths.
This week, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions started to slow, prompting the governor to say the “worst is over.” But he is leaving in place social distancing and stay-at-home measures until May 15, fearing a premature reopening could lead to a resurgence in infections.
The shuttering of so many businesses has crippled the state’s thriving economy, which had a GDP of more than $1.5 trillion in 2017, accounting for 8% of the national total, according to the New York state comptroller’s website.
On March 25, the U.S. Senate passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to address the negative economic impact of the coronavirus. New York, which leads the nation in confirmed cases and hospitalizations, received only $3.8 billion.
“You pass a piece of legislation that starves state and local governments, you’re not helping the country, you’re just not,” Cuomo said.
New York City received only $1.3 billion from the stimulus package, a figure Mayor Bill de Blasio called “immoral.”
“The only way you have recovery is if places like New York City in particular, the great economic leader and engine of this nation, if we're strong, our nation can be strong,” de Blasio said at a news conference to unveil the city’s new budget. “If we're not strong, if our people are not safe, then this nation can't recover. And that's true for cities and states all over the country.”
The mayor said over the current fiscal year and the next, the city would lose $7.4 billion in tax revenue because of the pandemic. He said that the city would cut $2 billion from its budget, but even with such drastic cuts, federal assistance is still critical.
“We're taking the actions that we can take, but the only force that can ensure that we get through this the right way is the federal government,” de Blasio said. “They have the ability to provide the resources in a way that no one else, no organization, nothing else on Earth can help us the way the federal government can, and now it's their hour of decision.”
The mayor said that the revised budget of $89.3 billion for fiscal 2021 would have four priorities: keeping New Yorkers healthy and safe and making sure they are fed and housed.
“A budget is a statement of values; our values are clear,” he said. “We're here to protect people and we will do so, and we will get through this crisis. It will not be easy, but we will get through this crisis.”