Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay today called for a return to established state government operations, processes and legislative powers. Leader Barclay stated it is time to restore the traditional authorities given to the Legislature and end Gov. Cuomos expanded emergency powers as the state reports declining numbers of COVID-19 cases and begins planning for a phased reopening of the economy.
The emergency powers provided to the governor were always intended to be temporary. As we see the COVID-19 threat begin to subside and we move in the direction of reopening New York, the time has come for state government to return to its basic principle of representative democracy, Leader Barclay said. The decisions we face in the coming weeks will impact New Yorkers for years to come. When are regions opening up? How do we fix a $13 billion budget hole? What are we doing to help people and businesses fully recover? Answers to these questions need to be developed through a legislative process and in a manner that gives a voice to every New Yorker. One-party rule is rife with issues. But one-person rule is not how our system of government was ever designed to run.
Gov. Cuomo assumed widespread authority when he declared a state of emergency on March 7 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has issued 29 Executive Orders and changed more than 250 laws. New York state has experienced more than 330,000 cases of and 21,000 deaths from COVID-19. The state faces a $13.3 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2020-21, and $69 billion over the next four years. Under his expanded authorities, the governor has:
- required all non-essential businesses to close and workers to stay home;
- spent nearly $3 billion in response to the pandemic;
- extended until June 6 statewide stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements;
- closed schools for the remainder of the academic year; and
- announced a reimagine partnership with Bill Gates to establish greater uses of technology in the state education system.
In recent weeks, the state has seen reductions in the number of hospitalizations, infection rates and reported deaths. On April 20, the Assembly Minority called for a plan to regionally reopen businesses in regions where the COVID-19 virus was less prevalent. Gov. Cuomo presented a framework for reopening areas that met certain conditions, but as of this week, no region in New York state had met the governors criteria.
Fortunately, we have seen improvements in COVID-19 numbers, and I hope that trend continues. With critical decisions and budget activity directly in front of us, it is essential that our branches of government function as co-equal partners and in a manner where 19.5 million New Yorkers are properly represented, Leader Barclay added.