Cuomo threatens to withhold funding from schools, local governments that don’t follow shutdown orders
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that state funding for schools and local governments will be on the line if they defy statewide shutdown orders.
Cuomo said in a briefing Wednesday that the warning applied to New York City officials as well as those in the village of Spring Valley, the town of Ramapo and Rockland and Orange counties. The state “could impound all funds” from jurisdictions violating the orders, the governor said.
Cuomo said New York, an early epicenter of the virus, was at 1.1 percent positivity for the virus statewide on Tuesday when the hotspots were included, but 0.95 percent positivity without them. The so-called red zones themselves were at 6.2 percent positivity, he said, which is “actually lower than many statewide infection rates right now.”
He added that state and local officials have continued to encounter resistance in heavily Orthodox Jewish communities in the state.
“If I had to do this all over again on lessons learned, I would have had the state take over or hire statewide enforcement, because the enforcement from the local governments is very uneven, especially when it’s politically sensitive,” Cuomo said. “And that’s what we’re running into with a lot of these Ultra-Orthodox communities, who are also very politically powerful.”
Cuomo made clear that the threat of withholding funding would apply to yeshivas, schools and local governments, with orders served Wednesday to any schools found to be in violation.
“I don’t like to do that. Budgets are tough all across the board,” Cuomo said. “I don’t know how else to get them to actually do the enforcement they need to do, so hopefully that will motivate them.”
New York has recorded over 481,000 cases of the virus and 32,914 deaths as of Wednesday. More than 256,000 cases and nearly 24,000 deaths were in the New York City area.