Mayor Urges White House To Help Cities & States ‘Provide Basics’ Or ‘Kiss Recovery Goodbye’

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City is expected to spend $3.5 billion fighting the coronavirus pandemic by the end of the calendar year and lose $7.4 billion in tax revenue over the next 15 months, the mayor said Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a $89.3 billion budget proposal, saying it reflects four priorities: Keeping New Yorkers healthy, safe, with food on their tables and roofs over their heads.

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“These four things are what people are overwhelmingly focused on, rightly so. And your government needs to be focus on these four things, too,” the mayor said. “These four things, we will spare no expense, we will spare no effort. Whatever it takes to keep New Yorkers healthy, we’ll do it, to keep you safe, we’ll do it, to make sure you have enough food to eat, to make sure you have a roof over your head. Whatever it takes, we will protect you.”

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The city has drawn on reserves, and it’s also saving on some programs because of virus-related shutdowns. But the mayor’s plan also calls for making a wide variety of trims: everything from delaying an expansion of its free prekindergarten program for 3-year-olds to reducing tree pruning, and from suspending a summer-job program for young people to closing city pools this summer in light of the virus.

Still, there are uncertainties about whether it will be enough. The city Independent Budget Office on Wednesday projected a $9.7 billion revenue shortfall in this budget year and next. De Blasio said he respects the independent agency but stands by City Hall’s projections.


The mayor also said the city needs the federal government to make up the lost revenue and “make sure cities and states are whole and can get back up on their feet.”

“If we can’t provide the basics for our people, then you can kiss your recovery goodbye,” he said. “It’s as blunt as that.”

He said of the $2.2 trillion in federal stimulus money, the city received only $1.4 billion – compared to $58 billion for the airline industry.

“No New Yorker is responsible for this horrible crisis, but New York has born the brunt, we’ve been the epicenter. When you look at the impact here, anybody with a heart would recognize the federal government has to come to the rescue. We lead the nation’s economy, we’re the biggest city in the country, we constantly send resources out to the rest of the country year after year,” he went on to say. “There are so many reasons why it’s clear, but just humanly – this is the reason that should matter the most – because people are suffering, because no Americans should have to go through what New York is going through, because the federal government should be there for us.

“I remind you the federal government was very quick to bail out the banks a decade ago, no questions asked. The federal government was very quick to bail out the auto industry,” he added. “How about bailing out the nation’s largest city? How about bailing out the epicenter of this crisis where people have been suffering?”

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De Blasio reported another “tough day,” with the number of hospitalizations, the number of patients in intensive care units and the percentage of positive test results all on the rise.

Three key indicators:

  • Hospitalizations: 386, up from 370 on 4/13
  • ICU patients: 887, up from 868
  • Positive test results: 55%, up from 53%

“These indicators tell us a tough truth some days about the fact it won’t be easy, and it won’t necessarily be fast, and it won’t be in a straight line. We believe this is the truth, and New Yorkers always want the blunt truth,” said de Blasio. “It tells us we’ve got a lot more work to do, but it’s also a reminder that the progress we have made is all because of you. Stick to it with those social distancing standards and with shelter in place, stick to it, because we’re going to need it.”

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The mayor has said those indicators will determine how and when the city gradually starts to reopen its economy.

CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer asked him whether he’s spoken with President Donald Trump about the national guidelines the White House task force is expected to announce later tonight.

“I told them it would be madness to rush the restart in a way that would cause a boomerang effect, where the disease reasserted, we got set back even farther, the day when the economy can reopen got pushed back much worse, much farther because they moved too soon,” he replied. “It would be a huge mistake to restart too early, it would be a huge mistake to take our foot off the gas and to start taking away the things that were working before we were sure that we had turned the corner.

“I think they do think New York is in a particular situation, and in some ways that’s true. But my warning was don’t see New York City as so unusual that you think the same thing we’ve gone through isn’t going to happen in one form or another in a lot of places. The social distancing was necessary, the shelter in place was necessary, and you have to come out of it carefully and smartly or you’ll regret it,” he added. “I think if the president artificially, if you will, ignores the warnings we’re getting on this disease and rushes to do a restart that ignores the danger, he will regret it. He has one chance, I think the president has one chance to get it right. If he is smart about it and careful about it, we can actually get to a restart of the economy we can sustain. If he jumps too soon, it’ll be horrible, it’ll set us back further.”

De Blasio added it’s a decision he will “have to make for my city, too, and I’m going to be damn careful.”

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