Even if New York receives federal aid, the state will need to raise taxes in an attempt to balance the budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo said during his press conference on Wednesday.
He did not indicate how much taxes will be raised, or if it would be taxes on specific earners or on goods and services.
“I believe we’re going to have to raise taxes, at the end of the day, in any event. But the question is, how much to tax, because then you have to do it as part of a budget and balance the budget,” said Cuomo.
Cuomo was joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to publicly call on Washington to pass a federal aid package, and they urged New York residents to contact their representatives to ask them to do so.
“I’m not willing to give up on getting the funding from Washington, because as I said before, it will be devastating,” said Cuomo. “There is no tax increase that can make up from the lost revenue, from Washington.”
Due to the economic devastation wreaked by the coronavirus New York State needs at least $15 billion and New York City needs $9 billion in emergency funds. Without federal aid, both will have to borrow billions, raise public transit fares, layoff thousands of workers, including 9,000 MTA workers, and raise taxes.
The MTA need $4.5 billion in federal aid, and risks having to slash services by 40% if no funding comes.
The MTA joined with the National Coalition of Public Transportation Agencies to release a statement on Wednesday urging Congress to pass an aid package. The transit agencies, from New Orleans to Cleveland, pleaded for “significant and immediate emergency federal relief” to prevent “drastic service cuts, fare increases, layoffs of thousands of workers across the country and capital disinvestment.”
Congress is currently negotiating a $908 billion COVID-19 relief bill.
Not all news from the press conference was grim; Cuomo announced New York could begin vaccinating residents with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as early as this weekend. The state is expecting to receive 170,00 doses once the FDA approves the vaccine, with 72,000 doses going to New York City.
The state will distribute the vaccines to 90 distribution centers capable of storing the vaccine at the required subzero temperatures.
Nursing home residents and nursing home aides and workers will be first to receive the vaccine. Hospital workers, especially those considered “high risk” and those who work in the ICU or the emergency room will be up next. Hospitals have the prerogative to chose for themselves which staff members will be vaccinated first.
Members of New York State National Guard, who Cuomo praised for their work throughout the pandemic, will also be eligible to be among the first state workers vaccinated as part of a federal program.
New York will also be taking part in a federal program, which works with pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS, to distribute vaccines to nursing homes, similar to how the companies handle the annual flu vaccine.
Cuomo said he expects the general public will be able to receive the vaccine beginning in February.