Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers are eyeing emergency loans to get New York’s cash-strapped state government the billions it needs to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, which is ravaging budget projections with massive new costs and lost revenue.
The proposal was outlined in a budget memo that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office sent to his lawmakers, which was obtained by The Post on Tuesday.
Heastie’s memo said that the federal government’s decision to delay income tax filings until July means the Empire State won’t get billions in revenue — $12 billion, state budget officials later acknowledged — it was banking on during the first three months of its 2021 budget.
“Added to this uncertainty are downward revisions in sales tax, user fees and other non-tax receipts linked to depressed economic activity. The financial markets are in distress,” Heastie’s memo adds.
To deal with the “unprecedented challenges” the Albany plan proposes “issuance of short-term bond anticipation notes to provide temporary liquidity, backed by PIT [Personal Income Tax] receipts,” the proposal said.
In other words, the state government could run out of money because of plummeting tax revenues and increased spending to address the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Cuomo issued an executive order that has closed retail businesses and ordered residents to work from home to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 25,000 New Yorkers.
Heastie’s memo also outlines a series of ways that state leaders are scrambling to raise cash to pay the bills as the coronavirus pandemic rages, including authorizing the state Dormitory Authority to seek “a temporary line of credit.”
The authority performs much of the state borrowing for an array of education and social service programs and institutions, including City University and State University of New York systems.
Cuomo’s also asking lawmakers to approve a $4 billion fund to deal with “public health emergencies” like COVID-19 and to “drawdown anticipated Federal aid,” worth an estimated $10 billion.
Additionally, the governor’s budget office wants “expanded access to dedicated fund balances” — raiding surpluses in accounts for specific agencies and programs — as well as authority “to delay or reduce local assistance payments under certain conditions.”
Any plan would require the approval of the Democratic-run Senate and Assembly as well as the governor.
The last item in Heastie memo, listed under “new issues”, acknowledges that Cuomo and legislative leaders are looking at making changes to the new controversial bail law that eliminated pre-trial detention for most “non-violent” felony and misdemeanor crimes.
“The Executive and the Senate are seeking to make changes to the bail and discovery reforms enacted last year,” the memo says.
Also on the table is a bill pushed by Cuomo that would ban repeat sex offenders and perverts from riding the subway. The measure has gotten stuck in the state Assembly for years but has passed the state Senate.
Pols are also prioritizing a state seal change, seeking to add the words “E Pluribus Unum.”
They’re also looking to legalize gestational surrogacy, allowing couples that are homosexual or cannot have children on their own to hire and pay surrogates to carry babies to full term; authorize e-bikes and e-scooters usage statewide, and legalize and regulate the sale of adult-use marijuana through a new Office of Cannabis Management.
Lawmakers are expected to return to Albany Thursday or Friday to discuss the package.
Representives for Heastie and Cuomo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.