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Editorial

To Congress: Fund the states — now

Posted

Aside from the slings and arrows thrown more sparingly than usual by President Trump, the nearly two-month-long coronavirus crisis has been largely free of the bitter partisan politics that have roiled our nation in recent years.

Until last week, that is.

Yes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, perhaps unsurprisingly, went there even now, as families across the country have been reeling amid a steadily mounting Covid-19 death toll.

After offering desperately needed financial relief to small businesses, Congress began debating whether to fund states whose annual budgets have been decimated because of the coronavirus. McConnell’s pathetic response: Fund yourselves or declare bankruptcy, saying he would have no more “blue state bailouts.”

That clearly angered Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who for weeks had called on Congress to fund the states, noting that New York is staring down a historically high $10 billion to $15 billion gap in its budget. Without federal intervention, New York might be forced to cut 20 percent of aid for essential services like fire, police, hospitals and schools.

Such cuts would mean steep, across-the-board staffing cuts, Cuomo warned, but there would be no choice. With income tax collections halted at the moment and sales taxes bottoming out, the state is now essentially broke, when only two months ago it was solvent.

Cuomo fired back at McConnell, arguing that, year after year, New York contributes more than any other state than it receives in federal aid. Meanwhile, McConnell’s home state of Kentucky is among the states that contributes the least to the federal coffers, but among those that take the most in aid.

“Just give me my money back, Senator,” Cuomo implored McConnell.

If Congress were to refuse to fund the states to make their budgets whole again, then “you will see a collapse of this national economy,” Cuomo said.

We urge New Yorkers to write to their congressional representatives to show support for swift action to fund the states and avoid an economic catastrophe of even greater proportions than we have already seen. Local representatives’ websites are listed below.

How to write your U.S. representative

Go to these websites to reach your local congressional representatives:

• U.S. Rep. Peter King, 2nd District, http://peteking.house.gov.

• U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, 3rd District, http://suozzi.house.gov.

• U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, 4th District, www.kathleenrice.house.gov.

• U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, www.schumer.senate.gov.

• U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, www.gillibrand.senate.gov.