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May 26, 2020
by Adam Roberts
Photo: Martin Falbisoner via Wikimedia Commons.

As the health crisis wears on, the financial situation for state and local governments continues to be dire. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that cities and states should consider bankruptcy, indicating that aid is not forthcoming. President Trump has similarly expressed reservations about assisting them, tying bailouts to support for his immigration policies. This has forced states and localities to undertake significant budget cuts.

In New York City and elsewhere, these cuts have been to the detriment of architecture and other professions heavily dependent upon well-functioning government agencies. Public works projects were among the crisis’ first financial victims, with a halt being announced in late March. AIANY, in conjunction with its labor, contractor, and engineer allies, sent a letter to the Mayor expressing opposition to this halt on public works projects. Nevertheless, as the crisis has continued, the City’s budget situation has become even worse. Mayor de Blasio has admitted that layoffs and furloughs, including of essential workers, are likely.

New York State is in a similarly bad position. Before the crisis hit, the State was already on shaky financial footing due to a Medicaid-induced shortfall. The State’s budget, which was passed last month, granted Governor Cuomo the ability to make mid-year spending adjustments relating to COVID-induced revenue losses. Therefore, the extent and nature of the cuts is still to be fully determined.

Our chapter and national organization are advocating strongly on behalf of our city and state. The challenge remains convincing members of Congress from more conservative areas of the country to support keeping our cities and states afloat. This opinion piece from The Wall Street Journal editorial board explains some of the logic behind conservative opposition. The risks for our industry are great; without financial support from the federal government, public works may be indefinitely delayed, transportation systems may cease operating, and projects may linger waiting for approvals.

Pulse Points:

  • Primaries in New York State for the presidency, congress, state legislature, and local offices are all occurring on Tuesday, June 23. While in-person voting will be available, absentee ballots are now available for all New Yorkers, regardless of whether you are traveling. If you are planning to be in New York City but prefer to vote absentee for safety reasons, please check the box for “Temporary Illness” on the application. Ballot applications are due by June 16. You may request an absentee ballot here.
  • It is essential that all New Yorkers complete their US Census questionnaires as soon as possible. Questionnaires are due by October 31, 2020. They help determine the allocation of federal government resources and apportionment of legislative districts. The more New Yorkers who are counted, the more federal funding and US representatives our state will be allotted. Please click here to fill out your census

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