ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rep. Tom Reed (R-23) criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday for the governor’s decision to not collaborate with the federal government on unemployment benefits.
Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo said New York state just couldn’t afford to pay a quarter of the cost of extra unemployment payments as required by President Donald Trump’s executive order.
Trump’s order allocates $44 billion in federal dollars from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to boost unemployment aid for the jobless and calls on states to kick in roughly $15 billion. The Trump administration says states can pull from federal coronavirus relief funds already distributed to states earlier in the crisis.
However, some states have already fully allocated that money for other critical needs.
“It’s an impossibility for the state of New York to contribute any money to unemployment insurance,” Cuomo said. “You can not get water out of a stone. That is a fact and we have a $14 billion deficit, and we can’t pay for it. All the governors will tell you that if the states need to reinvent their unemployment, insurance, administration programs there will be weeks or months before anyone gets a check.”
Officials from the governor’s office say no official decision has been made, but questions about system changes and states being reimbursed for the cost is keeping Gov. Cuomo from applying — for now.
Rep. Reed says the governor’s inaction is causing harm to New Yorkers. The Congressman says more than 10 states, including those run by state Democrats, have already applied and been approved by FEMA to provide their citizens with boosted unemployment aid. New York is one of the only states to outright refuse assistance.
On a conference call with media earlier this week the governor said he would prefer to not collaborate with FEMA on the proposal.
“I’d rather do business with the old timey bookie on the street corner than do business with FEMA,” Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday.
Rep. Reed said Friday that the governor is “prioritizing political optics over the financial needs of New Yorkers.”
“The Governor should immediately reconsider this short-sided refusal because real people are suffering. Why should New Yorkers’ wallets be held hostage by the Governor’s partisan politics and the state’s long-term financial mismanagement when other states are happily distributing much-need aid to their communities?” Rep. Reed said in a press release. “We will continue to fight for a bipartisan stimulus deal at the federal level that delivers comprehensive relief. In the meantime, however, Governor Cuomo should put his personal pride aside and work with the administration on a proven solution that ensures New Yorkers gain access to the critical financial relief they deserve.”