LOWER MANHATTAN — With the state budget set to expire at midnight, with New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the State Assembly and the State Senate were said to be hammering out a deal to fund the government through the next year.
State budget director Robert Mujica even told Spectrum News NY1 earlier Wednesday they’re expecting to have an agreement.
“We’re going to get it done,” he said.
But by midnight, no such deal had been fully passed.
Cuomo asked the federal government for $15 billion in COVID relief and recovery, but the state received about $12.5 billion — that leaves a $2.5 billion shortfall.
One proposal has been to increase taxes for the wealthiest New Yorkers. The Republicans in the state legislature have opposed the increase, while the Democrats say it’s a necessity; the governor has been lukewarm to the idea.
“We know a lot of New Yorkers have left New York,” said Mujica. “We know that the unemployment rate right now is relatively high and whatever we do on the tax side, we want to make sure, right, that we’re striking that balance with funding the items for the recovery, but at the same time, not discouraging job growth and not discouraging those jobs from coming back to New York.”
Mujica has said the Cuomo administration’s top funding priorities are jobs, education, and nursing home reform.
With the budget deadline then-looming, hundreds of protesters gathered in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan Wednesday. The protesters said they’d been adversely affected by the pandemic and are struggling with unemployment, food insecurity and rent payments. They’re calling on Cuomo to fully end tax breaks for the rich.
Over a dozen protesters were arrested, mostly for civil disobedience. At one point, a group of protesters staged a sit-in, blocking a crosswalk on Broadway.
State legislators also proposed their own tax hike to raise $7 billion; the money would go toward education, in addition to funding to assist workers that have been left out of recent federal stimulus packages.