In the midst of a pandemic that has crippled the economy and left millions fighting to survive financially, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is getting a raise.
Cuomo is set to receive a $25,000 pay raise in January 2021, increasing his salary from $225,000 to $250,000 and cementing him as the highest-paid governor in the country.
Meanwhile hopes for raises for New York's lawmakers, judges and commissioners were dashed on Monday, when the commission that approves pay increases determined that there wasn't enough room in the budget to give them out this year due to losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
'Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time,' the Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation (CLJEC) panel wrote in a report.
New York's deficit is expected to balloon to $63billion over the next four years, fueled by the crushing cost of the pandemic and related losses in tourism, transportation and tax revenue.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is set to receive a $25,000 pay raise in January 2021, increasing his salary to $250,000 and making him the highest-paid governor in the US
While the commission's decision is merely a recommendation, with the potential to be overturned by state lawmakers, it is expected to be upheld given the current budget crisis.
If it is upheld, the decision will remain in effect for the next four years until the commission meets again in 2024.
In the meantime lawmakers could decide to increase their own pay by passing a new law, but the increase would not take effect until 2023 at the earliest.
The base salary for New York's 213 lawmakers is currently set at $110,000, plus a per diem for each day they spend at the Capitol in Albany.
The salary for judges is varied based on their bench, with state Supreme Court judges making about $210,000.
The commission's decision does not affect Cuomo's raise, which was approved last year under a joint resolution by the state Senate and Assembly.
Three other top officials are also set to receive raises in January - Lieutenant Gov Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Like Cuomo's, their salary increases are approved by the legislature, not the CLJEC.
Hopes for raises for New York's lawmakers, judges and commissioners were dashed on Monday, when the commission that approves pay increases determined there isn't enough room in the budget to give them out this year due to losses from the coronavirus pandemic
In the face of a rapidly expanding deficit, Cuomo has been lobbying the federal government for additional funding, warning that the state will be forced to make permanent 20 percent cuts to health and education if the aid doesn't arrive.
'We don't have a shovel big enough to dig out of [the deficit], it's the biggest number in history. We need help from Washington,' the governor said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
He took a shot at President Donald Trump for failing to provide more funding and said he expects his predecessor Joe Biden to handle things differently.
'Biden ran, and I know him and I supported and he's a good man – he will fund state and local governments and we need that to come even close to balancing the budget,' Cuomo said.
The CLJEC panel emphasized the need for federal funding in its salary report on Monday, echoing Cuomo's warnings budget cuts.
'We understand the potential for significant budget cuts may be necessary at the state executive level as well if the federal government does not enact additional funding to address the economic hardship caused by COVID-19,' the panel wrote.
'Substantial additional state monies will be needed to deal with the pandemic, including providing face masks, virus tracking, contact tracing, enforcement efforts, and distribution of the hoped for new pandemic vaccine.
'Simply put the commissioners' worst fears as articulated in the 2019 Report – a downturn in the state's finances coupled with an inability to cover increased salary obligations – has unfortunately come to stark reality in the worst possible way.'Tourism in New York City could take FIVE years to return to normal with visitors predicted to only start returning in mid-2021 as the $46 BILLION industry faces wipe out
Tourism in New York City could take five years to return to normal with new forecasts predicting visitors will only start returning to the Big Apple in mid-2021.
The industry faces being wiped out - along with its $46 billion revenue stream and 400,000 jobs - as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge throughout the United States.
NYC & Company, the city's tourism promotion agency, say it is likely to be 2025 before the number of foreign visitors to the Big Apple reaches the 2019 heights - when a record 66.6 million visitors flooded the city, 13.5 million of which were international.
Its CEO, Fred Dixon, told The New York Times: 'It's going to be a very slow build initially.' New York City has recorded more than 287,000 cases of the coronavirus and 24,124 deaths.
Tourism in New York City could take