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State Comptroller: 20% statewide education cuts could be reality

Five WNY school districts in "fiscal stress"
Posted at 5:21 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 19:25:15-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Coming out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic could put the state of New York in a serious fiscal trouble, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

"If we don’t get that money from the state we could be seeing serious cuts that will trickle down to the local level," DiNapoli said.

Cuomo says New York is facing a 61 billion dollar budget gap because of COVID-19. Cuomo says now, the state needs help from the federal government.

"The state funds local governments," he said. "If the state doesn't have money, who gets cut? Firefighters, police, schools."

But what could that mean for parts of Western New York? 7 Eyewitness News spoke exclusively with State Comptroller DiNapoli on this issue. He says as much as $8.2 billion would be cut from aid to localities spending.

"Certainly in terms of schools, we could see a 20% reduction," he said.

A 20% reduction in teachers, aids and school funding if the money is not received from the federal government.

"We need the money and we need it now," he said.

DiNapoli says cuts could trickle down to local governments as it relates to police, fire, and ems.

"God forbid we have to lay off front line workers. What kind of a reward is that for the extraordinary work they have done throughout this crisis."

Congressman Brian Higgins has put forth the HEROES Act. It's an emergency relief package which would provide billions in funding to WNY.

“Unless and until there is an effective treatment or vaccine coronavirus will continue to cost this country both in terms of widespread economic losses and tragically in lost lives,” said Congressman Higgins. “That’s why we fought for and won the inclusion of nearly $5 billion toward coronavirus research. We only truly cure the pain this is causing our families and small business when we effectively treat the root cause of this public health emergency.”

Congressman Tom Reed says:

"“As the comptroller’s report and other similar analyses have suggested, there is no question that coronavirus and subsequent shutdowns have economically devastated state and local governments across the country,” said Tom.

“The federal government has to step in to provide relief but it must be done in a way that ensures local governments receive their fair share and taxpayers funds are not being used to address budget items unrelated to COVID. Unfortunately, the record is very clear; whenever Albany gets federal support, it repeatedly employs a variety of budget shenanigans that leave local governments worse off. So the Governor can continue to move the goalposts with respect to how much unrestricted aid he demands the state receive, but my colleagues and I in the Senate and House are focused on how to responsibly distribute aid to state and local governments.”