New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faced backlash on Tuesday after revealing a proposal for a $130million recovery program for restaurants, the arts and small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Yorkers called out Cuomo for offering ‘peanuts’ after he closed indoor dining throughout the winter – while acknowledging that the main culprit of the coronavirus spread was gatherings in homes – and not bars and restaurants.
It comes despite the restaurant industry alone paying $10.7billion in wages across New York City in 2019, according to the office of the State Comptroller.
Many hit back on social media, calling on the governor to ‘open them’ instead of forcing businesses to wait on credit that may not be approved for another three months – if accepted at all – and wouldn’t come into effect until next year.
Cuomo unveiled the state’s Pandemic Recovery and Restart Program as part of an optimistic 2022 budget that relies on the state receiving a full $15 billion in federal funding from President-elect Joe Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan’.
The governor on Tuesday threatened legal action if the state does not receive the $15billion.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday revealed a Pandemic Recovery and Restart Program as part of his 2022 budget proposal, as pictured above
The $130million program would offer tax credits for businesses to rehire staff and credit to restaurants hard hit by the pandemic. Pictured, an empty Manhattan bar on January 9
Cuomo closed indoor dining in the state during the winter despite admitting that coronavirus spread in homes is more problematic. Pictured, empty tables at an NYC restaurant
In the press briefing, Cuomo explained that the $130-million program would include a $50 million tax credit for small business to rehire staff, and a $50million credit for the state’s most impacted restaurants, such as those in New York City and others forced to close in red and orange zones elsewhere in the state.
It would also allow for a $30million musical and theatrical production credit.
New York, and especially New York City’s, restaurant industry was decimated by last year’s closures and the ongoing restrictions.
It is the second-largest component of the city’s $46 billion tourism industry, according to a report from the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
It made $27 billion in taxable sales in 2019, the report added.
Broadway productions, meanwhile, also grossed $1.83 billion in ticket sales in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to the state’s Labor Department.
With Broadway now closed until at least June 2021 and restaurants only operating with limitations, the industry is in desperate need of extra aid to survive.
‘It would allow us to get the economy back up and running and focus a tax credit on small businesses that have been decimated through COVID-19 with a rehiring credit,’ Cuomo explained.
‘Also a tax credit for restaurants especially that were impacted by COVID,’ he continued.
‘Restaurants paid a really high price for what happened during COVID. Many businesses were hurt. I believe restaurants would be at the top of the list.
‘The main restriction is still on restaurants and they cooperated but it’s now our responsibility to work with them to restore their businesses.’
Restaurants remain closed by state order to indoor dining.
Meanwhile, Cuomo said there will be a $30million credit ‘to get the arts and music and theater productions back up and running’.
‘Because New York is not New York without them,’ he said.
Yet angered New Yorkers felt that it was too little, too late as they blasted the Democratic governor for enforcing the extra closures over the winter in the first place.
‘Here is a way to support restaurants and theaters that suffered the most, open them! (Indoor dining in the city, theaters statewide)’ a Twitter named Alex Atallah wrote.
Some New Yorkers criticized Governor Cuomo’s proposal on social media, pictured
Many of the commenters said that restaurants should be opened
‘Well we wouldn’t be in this situation if you just had them stay open,’ complained John Petrelleze.
Another claimed that the recovery tax credits was ‘peanuts compared to what they’ve lost due to your lockdowns’, while one New Yorker told Cuomo to ‘open them up’.
‘Why on earth do I work and pay taxes to help with a recovery program when you could open restaurants and the economy?!’ questioned Jessica Desalvo.
‘Enjoy your last year as governor!!’ she added.
‘You mean the ones you destroyed? Nothing for amusement businesses (that support other communities) who haven’t made $1 in 2020????’ fumed Rose Newton Paul.
Others questioned why NYC was being hit even harder than other parts of the country.
‘What about indoor dining in NYC?’ asked Twitter user Jay Grief. ‘It seems like the other parts of our state are given much better treatment.’
New Yorkers were angered that Cuomo had not done enough to save restaurants
Yet even as some residents voiced their disapproval that more is not on offer, Cuomo admitted that even the $130million proposal may not come into reality.
As he delivered his plan for the 2022 fiscal budget on Tuesday, Cuomo said that it is a ‘different type of budget’ with two scenarios offered depending on how much federal aid is offered once Joe Biden takes office.
Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan’ includes $350 billion in federal aid for states, but it is not certain how much each state will receive.
Cuomo outlined two different budgets: the first where only $6billion is received in federal aid, and the second where New York gets a full $15billion, which the governor described as a ‘fair funding scenario’.
‘New Yorkers deserve and demand fairness,’ Cuomo said. ‘They have been abused by Washington for four years, and it has to stop. And it has to stop now, and all we want is what’s fair.’
If the state does not receive the $15billion, Cuomo said that drastic measures would have to be taken to raise the remaining $9billion, including raising income tax rates and cutting funds to schools, social services, local governments and other outlets.
Cuomo unveiled the state’s Pandemic Recovery and Restart Program as part of an optimistic 2022 budget that relies on the state receiving a full $15 billion in federal funding from President-elect Joe Biden’s ‘American Rescue Plan’, as pictured above
In a tweet later on Tuesday, Cuomo added another hit at the federal government as he called for the state to be granted COVID relief, as pictured above
He suggested that the state may pursue legal action if it does not receive what he believes to be fair financial support, although did not specify who or what the state will sue.
In particular, Cuomo voiced anger at the federal government over the SALT program which he says cost New Yorkers billions of dollars in recent years. The 2017 federal law capped a deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000.
‘It has been one of the single worst federal actions to befall the state of New York,’ said Cuomo. ‘It also exacerbates the injustice that New York has always given Washington more than it gives back.’
Cuomo blamed President Donald Trump, in particular, stating that his failure to implement a travel ban on Europe earlier had led to the further spread of the coronavirus across the nation.
‘What happened to New York was no fault of New Yorkers,’ Cuomo said in his annual budget address, which was this year broadcast virtually. ‘It was because the federal government lost track of coronavirus, literally.’
Restaurants in NYC in particular have been hard hit by the closures. Pictured, a man eats outside of a fast food restaurant in downtown Brooklyn on January 8
He also outlined suggestions to add revenue such as a potential $500million from mobile sports betting. Cuomo said it was more a question of how, not if, the state would allow it to begin.
He said a further $300million could be raised through legalized adult-use marijuana sales.
In a tweet later on Tuesday, Cuomo added another hit at the federal government as he called for the state to be granted COVID relief.
‘New York will build back from the pandemic stronger than ever. But we need fair funding from the federal gov,’ he wrote.
‘The taxes NYS pays to the federal gov subsidize 43 other states. We need COVID relief.’
The New York state budget must be approved by April.
Last year’s budget was jettisoned as a result of the dramatic loss of sales and income tax due to COVID-19 closures.
Yet Cuomo’s projections for 2022 have already been criticized with state comptroller DiNapoli projecting that New York will bring in nearly $4billion more in tax revenues than Cuomo is estimating through March.