With any luck, the coronavirus will be a fading memory by summer. But by then, massive (if temporary) damage will already have been done to the state and regional economies. The Empire State and its local governments, including Gotham, will have to confront a fiscal crisis as intense as the current public-health emergency.
It isn’t hard to conjure a worst-case scenario. The personal-income tax, Albany’s largest single revenue source, leans heavily on high-rolling investors who have lost fortunes in three wildly chaotic weeks on Wall Street. The emptying of public places will blow a huge hole in sales-tax receipts, leading to enormous shortfalls for New York City and county governments across the state.
The question now isn’t whether previous state and local budget assumptions have been demolished — only by how much and for how long.
Yet while immersed in his new role as epidemiologist-in-chief, Cuomo had sidestepped questions about the pandemic’s impact on the state budget for the fiscal year starting April 1.
At a Saturday night press briefing, the governor finally opened up on the subject — only to sound as if nothing had changed since he rolled out his FY 2021 Executive Budget back in January.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images