2020 is one helluva of an election year in New York State
Critical races pile on top of each other and as worries grow that the Governor will try to cut government services despite the Covid 19 health crisis.
Biden is expected to win the Presidential election, but there are congressional races and the Democrats must confirm their hold on the State Legislature.
Choosing the next Mayor and City Council is less than a year away. In this one-party City, the candidates who win the Democratic Primary on June 22, 2021 will probably take office the following year.
A Democratic win followed by demands to cut government services is a nightmare. Democrats newly in power become the bearers of bad news. Politicians who sought to improve life could be forced to increase misery.
And it’s crunch time, needs are escalating, and government cash is declining. In July, the Governor’s office estimated the budget shortfall at $14.5 Billion.
The day after Bellevue Nurses protested cutback, Gov Cuomo slammed the Mayor for not making budget cuts, and the City’s Independent Budget Office told Mark Treyger, the Chair of the City Council Education committee that reopening City Schools would cost $31.6 million and including the hiring of additional teachers and nurses.
The next day, Thursday September 17th, the Mayor announced the students would not go to school. They would be taught with computers.
After an epidemic that left bodies piled up in trucks, and over 23,000 deaths in NYC (more fatalities than those suffered by the entire state of California), the New York State Nurses Association held a demonstration in front of Bellevue Hospital to fight plans to cut Medicaid, the program that provides medical care to the working poor and chronically ill persons.
There is one reason city services are being cut and nurses who put their life in danger to care for patients are now chanting, “Cuomo, Cuomo can’t you see. This is a health emergency.” The Governor refuses to raise taxes.
The Governor looks stubborn, but the legislature might make him bite the bullet and raise taxes on the wealthy. Last spring, Covid 19 put the legislature out of business. Drafting law requires face to face contact and public hearings. The budget was drafted during the peak of the crisis. At one point 18,000 patients were in the hospital, and the legislature was giving the Governor special powers to act alone.
This year all indications suggest that the vaccine will be available in time for the new legislative session in January and the body will be able to meet and insist on new priorities.
These changes will be driven by the election. Although Police Unions are now joining with Republicans to challenge the new Democratic majority in the State Senate, prospect are good that this majority will receive an all important confirmation of their historic 2018 election when they ousted the Independent Democrats and defeated Republicans to become a majority. These new members did not win that election to cut governments services hence the Governor is likely to change his mind about raising taxes.
The New York State Nurses Association, one of the most visible supporters of the Working Family Party, is pushing hard to achieve this result. At their demonstration Tuesday in front of Bellevue, their plans were endorsed by State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, and City Council Member Keith Powers whose district includes Bellevue. Joining them were Mark Levine, the Chair of the City Council Health Committee and Scott Stringer, the City Comptroller who is a leading candidate for Mayor to replace DeBlasio.
The Communication Workers sent District 1 President Bob Masters, and Todd Schulz the nurse who is President of the Bellevue Local introduced everybody. It was a formidable group of unions and elected officials insisting on no cuts in Medicaid.
A Democratic victory this November will the best insurance for robust health services. And this is a test for the nation. Only a Democratic Senate in Washington can assure that funds will be forthcoming to overcome the economic recession and the health crisis.