NY, NJ governors make joint plea for federal COVID-19 relief, SALT repeal

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Denis Slattery, New York Daily News
·3 min read
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ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy joined forces Friday in an effort to ensure their states receive a “fair” amount of federal COVID-19 funds.

The pair argued that states should get aid proportionate to the price they paid during the pandemic.

“When a state gets hit by a hurricane, that state gets relief,” Cuomo said during a remote briefing at the State Capitol. “It’s not that every state gets relief, the places that paid the highest price for the emergency.

Our state, and our region, paid the highest price for the emergency,” he added.

President Joe Biden has pledged to work with Congress on passing a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that includes $350 billion in relief for state and local governments.

Cuomo’s state budget proposal unveiled last month relies heavily upon New York receiving at best $15 billion in aid while also presented a “worst-case scenario” in which the Empire State gets only $6 billion in funds from Washington.

Cuomo and Murphy said New York and New Jersey should get a higher cut of the potential funds since it is “factually inarguable” that their states were “ambushed” by the crisis due to federal negligence on part of the Trump administration.

The Democratic governors also demanded the federal government repeal a cap on state and local tax deductions, known as SALT, one of Cuomo’s biggest gripes against former President Donald Trump over the past four years.

Cuomo, who said the measure is essentially a double taxation that costs New Yorkers $34 million a year, called the cap a political tool used to punish blue states.

“They took from New York, they took from New Jersey, they took from Connecticut, they took from California and they redistributed that money to Republican states,” he said.

While several elected officials, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and a handful of House members, have backed bills to repeal the cap, opponents have argued against the rollback because it predominantly benefits the wealthy.

Murphy said the measure is harming taxpayers across the board.

“The longer it stays on, the more people are going to get hurt. I think in New Jersey alone … it’s been an increment of, I believe, over $3 billion out of the pockets of our homeowners in the state,” he said.

Unaddressed at the joint briefing was the fact that New Jersey has joined a push to have the Supreme Court decide whether New York can continue to collect tax from Garden State residents who are working remote during the pandemic.

The nation’s highest court is weighing whether to take up a case initially filed by New Hampshire against neighboring Massachusetts after the latter decided it would continue to tax Granite State residents who typically crossed state lines for work pre-COVID-19.

Both New Jersey and Connecticut joined the legal battle back in December, meaning New York could see roughly $5 billion in annual revenue wiped out should the court take up the case and rule against states still taxing remote workers.

“Our staff has talked about it. It’s no doubt we have a difference of opinion,” Cuomo said after Murphy had already ended his portion of the press conference. “That lawsuit could have devastating consequences to the state if we’re not successful. I believe we will be successful and we should be successful but there’s no doubt that it would have devastating consequences.”