The Division of Budget has yet to disperse $2.9 billion of CARES Act funding received from the federal government to help New York address the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. New York state received approximately $5.1 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to be used for coronavirus-related expenses like hospital equipment, personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing.
This lack of urgency in the utilization of CRF dollars comes at a time when our state budget is extremely tight. The DOB has stated that increased spending control for state agencies will be necessary to maintain cash flow and to fill state budget gaps created by the reduction in state tax revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, these controls have included a strict hiring freeze, severe cuts to spending and a hold on all discretionary local aid grants, effectively cutting 20 percent of agencies budgets.
If New York is to recover from this pandemic, it will require attention to the economy as well as to our healthcare system. State financial resources have been significantly decreased because of COVID-19, and our institutions need help. That is why it is paramount that the remaining $2.9 billion in CRF aid be disbursed to pay for NYs coronavirus expenses.
In the midst of a global pandemic and one of the most dire economic situations in history, it is absolutely essential that we quickly and efficiently utilize CRF funds to address the costs of COVID-19. In addition to more responsibly handling CRF dollars, it is important to recognize that the federal government is far better equipped to help states nationwide during this difficult time, said Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C,I-Black River). That is why I am working with our federal representatives to provide financial relief to New York state and our struggling local governments. Rather than spending time ignoring his own statewide hiring freeze and hiring high-level Majority operatives to high paying positions in his administration, I strongly suggest the governor do the same. Together we will make it through this health crisis, and we will stabilize our economy.
***Editors note: Please find information on the governors new hires in the middle of a hiring-freeze here.