Most Pressingly, 2.7 Million New Yorkers That Depend on SNAP Benefits Will Be Impacted Beginning February 1 if Government Shutdown Continues
Shutdown Estimated to Cause Over 16,000 Federal Workers in New York to Either Be Furloughed or Asked to Work Without Pay
Governor Cuomo Also Urges New York State Delegation Not to Lose Sight of Top Priorities: Restoring SALT Deductibility and Funding Infrastructure Projects
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today met with New York's Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. and called on the Senate Republicans to abandon President Trump's demand for wall funding and reopen the government. With President Trump indicating that he is willing to keep the shutdown going for months or years without funding for the wall, numerous federal programs that provide services to New Yorkers will be severely impacted. Most pressingly, 2.7 million New Yorkers that depend on SNAP benefits will be impacted beginning February 1 if the government shutdown continues. The shutdown will also impact services such as WIC, FSA, TANF, and the MTA. In addition, thousands of federal employees have been working without pay, and several hundred TSA employees are calling in sick as the shutdown continues.
Governor Cuomo also discussed with New York's Congressional delegation his legislative agenda in New York and the state's top federal priorities, including the repeal of the unconstitutional cap on state and local tax deductibility and securing a fair share of federal funding for infrastructure projects.
"The shutdown of the federal government at the hands of President Trump and the Senate Republicans is putting New Yorkers in harm's way and it must end," Governor Cuomo said. "As we begin a new year, we look to the new Democratic-led House, including our terrific New York delegation, to stand up to the division and hate in Washington and fight for our interests and our values. For New York, our top priority as a state and as a delegation should be the repeal of the limit on SALT deductibility and securing funding for vital infrastructure projects, and I stand ready to do anything to help."
As the shutdown continues, other programs affected by the government shutdown that will directly affect operations in New York State include:
- SNAP - As of October 2018, there were 2.7 million New Yorkers in 1.5 million households that received benefits, at a federal cost of about $378 million per month. The federal government is expected to make SNAP payments through January, but according to recent reports, there is only $3 billion left in the contingency fund to make SNAP payments for the month of February, which falls significantly short of the $4.75 billion needed nationally every month. USDA has not yet indicated if it will make any funds available to states past January 31. If no federal funding resolution is reached, when reserve funds are exhausted or if no federal funds are made available past January, USDA will suspend the SNAP EBT system, stopping all SNAP benefits from being redeemed, including any remaining on recipient's accounts.
- Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children - WIC lost its funding upon the government shutdown. WIC state agencies are allowed to continue to operate using reserve funding, but a prolonged shutdown will drain WIC agencies of their resources, potentially resulting in clinic closures and other adverse consequences to participants.
- Farm Service Agency - FSA offices closed on Friday, December 28 at midnight. This means that several economic assistance programs such as farm loans, some farm payments, market facilitation (tariff relief), and disaster assistance have stopped.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - The State receives federal grants at the beginning of each quarter to fund the TANF program. The state has already received $680 million in FFY 2019 funding which is sufficient to reimburse three months of program costs.
- New York's National Parks - Staffing at National Parks is being held to the amount needed for the protection of life, property, and public health and safety. While parks may still be accessible to visitors, parks may not use the presence of visitors in the park to justify higher staffing numbers than approved during previous shutdowns. National monuments are closed to the public during the shutdown, but New York State intervened to keep the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island open throughout the duration of the shutdown. The State has fully funded National Park Service personnel and costs of operations at the cost of $65,000 per day, as it has during previous shutdowns in 2013 and this past January in order to keep the monuments open.
- Department of Transportation - Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) employees and certain air traffic control staff are required to report for work, although they are not eligible to get paid. In NYS alone, it is estimated that this shutdown has caused over 16,000 federal workers to work without pay. As a result, TSA employees are starting to call in sick, and if the shutdown continues it could cause significant operating issues at the regions' airports.
- Federal Transit Administration - During the current government shutdown, the MTA will not be able to obligate new federal funds or seek reimbursement on previously approved FTA grants or proceed with regulatory work on various matters. If the shutdown continues beyond four weeks, the MTA will need to make hard choices which could include deferring payments to contractors, delaying capital projects that are dependent upon federal funding, or both. Continued FTA shutdown could also increase MTA expenses on certain capital projects.
Governor Cuomo also urged New York's Congressional delegation to fight to fully restore the state and local tax deduction and secure a fair share of federal funding for the Gateway Tunnel. The elimination of full SALT deductibility in the Republican Tax Bill signed in December 2017 will have a devastating impact on New York costing New Yorkers an additional $14.3 billion to the federal government this year. This law threatens jobs and home values in New York and risks undermining the progressivity of the State's tax system, the investments and services that the State provides for its residents, and the competitiveness of New York's economy over the long term. New York is also already the number one donor state in the nation, with taxpayers contributing $35.6 billion more to the federal government every year than the state gets back.
The new Gateway Tunnel must be funded. The existing tunnels - a federally owned asset - are seriously deteriorated and the damage was exacerbated by Superstorm Sandy. It is only a matter of time before one or both of the tunnels will be unusable, posing a serious economic hardship for New York City and the entire Northeast corridor. In 2015 the federal Department of Transportation and New York and New Jersey reached a framework agreement in which the federal government would fund 50 percent of the new Gateway Tunnel project and New York and New Jersey would be responsible for financing the other half. Now, President Trump's administration has chosen to stop the agreement.
The Governor also discussed his legislative agenda, which, in the face of the federal government's assault on New York, represents a suite of ambitious proposals to ensure the promise of full, true justice for all, including economic justice, social justice and racial justice.
Congressman Eliot Engel said, "As Dean of the New York City Congressional delegation and Co-Dean of the State delegation, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for joining us today in Washington to discuss New York state priorities at the federal level. We are all in agreement that the best way to help New York is to reject the radical Trump agenda that has already hurt us significantly with the passage of last year's GOP tax scam, and is now threatening the SNAP benefits of 2.7 million New Yorkers thanks to the Trump shutdown. We send a clear message today with the Governor that New York will not stand idly by while the President holds our country hostage over a ridiculous wall. It's time for the GOP to end the uncertainty for New York families, end the uncertainty for the 16,000 federal employees in New York, and end this shutdown. My thanks to Governor Cuomo for his continued partnership and strong leadership on these critical issues."
Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for presenting a bold, progressive agenda and for his continued efforts to work with our delegation to make government work for the American people. With Democrats in control in Albany, we will have a strong, reliable partner to press critical priorities like full restoration of the SALT deduction, and to deliver results for New York families at all levels of government."