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Cuomo Says Trump's Unemployment Plan Is An "Impossibility"

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking March 25, 2020.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York doesn’t have enough money in its budget to meet a requirement in President Donald Trump’s executive order to fund $100 a week in additional unemployment benefits.

Trump issued the executive order on Saturday. It would give unemployed Americans $400 in additional payments a week, less than the $600 a week that expired July 31.

States, however, would have to finance one quarter of the weekly $400 payments. Trump told reporters that states have the money to do that.

Cuomo, speaking in a conference call with media, called the proposal “laughable,” saying that with the state facing a $14 billion deficit, New York does not have the resources.

“It’s just an impossibility,” said Cuomo, who said the plan would cost the state $4 billion.

Cuomo and several other governors, both Democrat and Republican, have been asking the federal government for more aid to make up for revenue plunges due to pandemic related economic shutdowns. So far, the two parties in Congress have not been able to agree on a package.

The governor also addressed some confusion that has come up since he announced on Friday that schools in New York can reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. Cuomo said each school district must hold three online forums with parents by late August.  The state’s largest cities’ school districts must have five meetings with parents, and one solely to address the concerns of teachers. The New York State Council of Schools Superintendents, among others, says schools have already met with parents, as part of re-opening guidelines established by the state Education Department, and had already planned to hold more meetings.

Cuomo says the schools will need to meet the requirements he set out, as well. He says without more communication, there is a real possibility that many parents may opt to keep their children home, learning remotely for the school year.

“And you’re not going to get them back just because the school district says ‘this is what we are going to do,’” said Cuomo, who said the parents and teachers have “real issues and real concerns.”

The governor spoke on a day when the virus rate remains low in New York. Of 65,812 tests conducted Sunday, 0.78% were positive, the lowest rate since the state began keeping track in the winter. 7 people died of COVID-19 on Sunday. 548 remain in the hospital with the virus, and the 131 New Yorkers in intensive care units is also the lowest number since the state began keeping count. 66 new patients were admitted. 

State police and the state liquor authority visited 2,294 bars and restaurants downstate, and issued 60 tickets for violations of COVID-19 safety precaution rules.

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.
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