State of State-New York

New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (from left), Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are seen Jan. 8, 2020, before Cuomo delivered his State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, N.Y. Content Exchange

(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed Wednesday that he and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have reached a “conceptual agreement” on a state budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

“They are going to go to their members today and talk to them about the agreement,” Cuomo said during a news briefing in Albany. “If the leaders are successful, we will pass the budget.”

Cuomo was loath to go into details, saying he didn’t want to jump the gun before legislative leaders had a chance to talk to lawmakers. His staff did indicate, however, the total budget number was effectively down $10 billion from the governor’s original proposal in an effort to compensate for the expected loss of revenue during the coronavirus crisis.

If that $10 billion decrease comes to pass, it would make the total budget number effectively $95 billion instead of the $105 billion Cuomo previously proposed. The governor has said he intends to revisit the budget quarterly over the coming year and make adjustments as needed based on how revenue actually develops.

“This budget is a robust budget,” he said. “When we did the State of the State [address], we had a lot of policy ideas, a lot of reform ideas that would help many, many New Yorkers … and all of those items are still in this budget. So it’s not that we said, because we’re busy, we’re going to scale back.”

During a radio interview Tuesday evening, Cuomo argued the state budget had to be a worst-case scenario plan, without hoping for possible sources of revenue to replace what’s been lost during the economic shutdown.

“There is no realistic option,” he said during the WAMC program. “You could theoretically say, I believe the federal government is going to deliver $10 billion to New York state. … You could say, I think the economy is going to bounce right back, because this virus is going to be over in five weeks, and then the stock market's going to go right through the roof. I don't believe any of those things are plausible.”

He expressed sympathy for Stewart-Cousins and Heastie when it came to convincing their fellow lawmakers to vote for a reduced, painful budget.

“We're just [dealing] with a painful reality, and they get it,” he said. “Look, Speaker Carl Heastie's a pro. Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a pro. It's just bad news, and politicians are not in a bad news business.”

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