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Cuomo takes case for federal aid to Washington

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and President Donald Trump.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and President Donald Trump.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought his plea for more federal relief from the coronavirus pandemic to Washington on Wednesday.

Speaking at the National Press Club, the Democratic governor said New York and other states hardest hit by the effects of the pandemi also pay billions more dollars in taxes to the federal government than they get back.

He called out leaders in red states, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who say “blue states” should not get any more money.

“That’s a lie, they know that they take more money,” said Cuomo. “Senator McConnell has his hand out in the Senate, and he receives more money for his state than he puts in.”

“Why should my state give a handout to Senator Scott every year? ” Cuomo continued. “When they make it personal to New York, and they are lying, I’m going to point it out.”

New York is facing a $13 billion deficit due to a steep drop in revenues when the economy shut down to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Scott, in a statement, said it’s Cuomo who is telling a “lie” about donor states and taker states to “distract from his failings as governor."  Scott said he won’t use a health crisis to spend taxpayer money to “bail out poorly run states” like New York, and he accused Cuomo of “reckless, irresponsible fiscal management." Scott said Congress has already approved over a trillion dollars in federal relief to states and local governments dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

Earlier, Cuomo met with President Donald Trump.  The governor said the two avoided politics, and he made the case for increased federal funding on infrastructure, that he says will “supercharge” the economy.

“It was a good conversation,” said Cuomo.  “The president is from New York, so he has a context for all of the things we are talking about.”

Projects include the long-stalled Gateway tunnel project, which would replace deteriorating train tracks under the Hudson River from New York to New Jersey, linking the Northeast with the Southern United States.

Trump has opposed federal funding for the project, which would also benefit Amtrak, in the past. Cuomo also wants federal funding to expand the Second Avenue subway to Harlem.

The governor did not say whether Trump made any commitments to fund the projects.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.