New York saw overall reduction of $7.9 billion, according to...

New York saw overall reduction of $7.9 billion, according to the report issued by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.  Credit: Steve Pfost

ALBANY — New York’s new cash report on Friday confirmed the massive hit to state revenue as a result of the coronavirus and provided Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with almost unilateral authority to slash the budget.

The release of the monthly report is typically a mundane government function. But not this time. Amid the pandemic, revenue collected in April amounted to about 32% of the sum collected the same month in 2019.

New York saw overall reduction of $7.9 billion, according to the report issued by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Of that, $7 billion comes from a decline in income-tax collections primarily due to officials pushing back Tax Day from April 15 to July 15.

Besides the steep drop, DiNapoli’s report officially confirmed that actual state revenue is more than 1% off the projections the governor and legislators used in April to enact state budget. In such circumstances, the budget is deemed out of balance and Cuomo can make midyear spending changes under special emergency powers legislators granted him in March.

“Now that April numbers are final, the state Division of the Budget may propose spending reductions or other options,” DiNapoli, a Democrat said, referring to a Cuomo-controlled agency.

The question now is: Will the governor?

Cuomo has repeatedly indicated he won’t make any changes until Congress and President Donald Trump decide on what’s expected to be the next aid package to states to deal with the pandemic.

On Friday, the Cuomo administration said a $3 trillion plan advanced by congressional Democrats would be enough to cover the state’s losses and prevent cuts this year. It would provide about $67 billion to New York over several years.

That plan, however, is far from assured in what’s expected to be tense negotiations with the Republican-controlled Senate. Further, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday he might not hold a vote on the issue until June.

Cuomo previously had warned of 20% cuts to New York school districts and other entities if the state, facing a $10 billion to $13 billion revenue shortfall over the year, doesn’t get more federal aid. Asked Friday about that warning, the Democrat didn’t answer directly but said he had faith in the “survival instinct of political officials” to bring home more bacon.

“I don’t believe they’re going to want to come home and defend the fact they’ve cut the teachers, the police, firefighters, doctors and nurses,” the governor said.

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