Amid coronavirus bailout talk, Cuomo and state lawmakers have kept 40 and 60 percent pay raises

While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo argues that New York receive additional federal coronavirus relief funds and openly spars with President Donald Trump over funding, he has not taken a pay cut, unlike some of his counterparts.

New York also started the fiscal year facing a $6 billion budget gap, the worst since 2011, Manny Alicandro, a New York-based attorney who specializes in policy and politics, told Fox News.

According to a September 2019 report of New York’s finances, the nonprofit organization Truth in Accounting (TIA) gave New York an F Grade for its fiscal health.

“New York’s elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the state with a debt burden of $136.6 billion,” the report states. “That burden equates to $20,500 for every state taxpayer.”

Despite this, in mid-April, Cuomo, a Democrat, sent a letter to Congress as co-leader of the National Governors Association, requesting that all 50 states receive an additional $500 billion in federal bail out money to offset their losses due to the economic impact of the coronavirus. Also signing the letter was Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, called the previous $200 billion allocated to state governments by Congress a “down payment,” according to a report from Route Fifty.

Brian Costin, director of the Illinois chapter of Americans for Prosperity, told The Center Square at the time of the request that “State and local governments are going to try to use this as an opportunity to bail them out for bad decisions that were made years and years in advance of COVID-19 ever happening.”

“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” Trump tweeted after the governors’ request.

Gov. Cuomo argues that New York is the “number one giver” of federal tax revenue and has been “bailing out red states for decades” to justify why it should receive more federal money.

“When it comes to fairness, New York state puts much more money into the federal pot than it takes out,” Cuomo said April 23. “At the end of the year, we put into that federal pot $116 billion more than we take out. His state, the state of Kentucky, takes out $148 billion more than they put in.”

But New York’s financial problems stem mostly from unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over the years, TIA argues. Of its $252.6 billion in retirement benefits promised, $10 billion in pension and $110.6 billion in retiree health care benefits remain unfunded.

Likewise, “New York is not completely transparent with its taxpayers,” TIA says. “Its reported net position is inflated by $6.7 billion, largely because the state defers recognizing losses incurred when the net pension liability increases,” the report states.

“The sad reality is [Cuomo’s] history of mismanagement, and misguided policies have kept us firmly planted in the difficult situation we face here today,” Republican Assemblyman Mike LiPetri told Fox News last month in a report listing failed state projects costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

But with unemployment increasing in New York, Cuomo and the state Legislature have not reversed their massive pay raises.

On April 2, 2019, at 2:45 a.m., the state Legislature voted to give themselves, and Cuomo, pay raises of roughly 60 and 40 percent, respectively.

The state Senate approved a salary increase of roughly 40 percent for the governor, increasing it from $179,000 to $200,000 in 2019, and to $225,000 in 2020, and again to $250,000 in 2021.

The Legislature voted to give itself a pay increase of more than 60 percent – increasing their annual salary from $79,500 to $130,000, effective in 2021.

Cuomo, the highest paid governor in America, has not offered to take a pay cut during the coronavirus crisis. Nor has the Legislature rescinded its 60 percent pay raise.

Democrat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced she was giving up 10 percent of her salary during the coronavirus shutdown. And Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced Wednesday he would voluntarily forgo 14 percent of his $91,609 salary in the budget year beginning July 1, leaving him with a salary of $78,784.



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