Gov. Andrew Cuomo is grappling with how to safely reopen New York State amidst a budget shortfall caused by the shutdown of the state’s economy during the pandemic. (CNS photo)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is grappling with how to safely reopen New York State amidst a budget shortfall caused by the shutdown of the state’s economy during the pandemic. (CNS photo)

As the country struggles to contain the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is grappling with how to safely reopen New York State amidst a budget shortfall caused by the shutdown of the state’s economy during the pandemic.  

 

In a statement released by the New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC), the New York State Bishops offered “prayers of wisdom” for Governor Cuomo as he navigated a proper solution, while also reminding the governor that “the state must never balance its budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable.”


“Published reports indicate that the state may be looking at sweeping 20 percent reductions across the board,” wrote the NYSCC. The strategy is ostensibly fair, but ignores “the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers who depend on state-funded, not-for-profit human services providers.”


Without federal funding, Cuomo said the state’s finances could lead to at least a 20 percent reduction in state aid to localities, such as cities and non-profits. Cuts have already started in public schools that are grappling with reductions in state funding as they prepare to reopen for the fall. 


The path for restoration is coupled with a lack of federal aid to state and local governments. Talks of a federal bailout of state and local finances have been underway for months, but no guarantee has come yet.


Catholic Charities has continued to assist those in need throughout the pandemic but the “challengers are greater than ever.” Demand for services is at an all-time high while donations are at a low “due to increased unemployment and reduced subsidies from dioceses” caused by lower parish collections. 


From the NYSCC: “We must not turn our back on women fleeing domestic violence, immigrants seeking legal resources, people with physical or developmental disabilities, the frail elderly, struggling single mothers and their young children, families who are homeless, those who have lost their jobs and don’t have enough food to put on the table, people suffering from addiction or mental illness, survivors of sexual abuse, offenders reintegrating into society, or the many other New Yorkers who most need our support.”