Good morning from home…

After several days of negotiations, “CARES Act 3.5” (The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act ) was signed into law by President Trump on Friday with $484 billion in funding to replenish a small business lending program and establish and support COVID-19 testing nationwide. Congress passed the bill in a 388-5-1 vote that saw lawmakers wearing masks, gloves and voting in groups after Republican members demanded a floor vote, requiring all members to return to Washington.

This was an “interim” coronavirus stimulus measure, falling between the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and the next full stimulus package that is currently under negotiation and will likely pick up steam when the Senate and House return to Washington after May 4th. “CARES 3.5” includes an additional $310 billion in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $60 billion of which is reserved for community banks and small lenders; $75 billion for hospitals; $25 billion to support testing efforts; and $60 billion for emergency disaster loans and grants. For a full summary, click here.

Democrats yielded on a number of key provisions at the eleventh hour—including $12.2 billion to New York State and local governments—based on a handshake agreement that those Democratic priorities would be negotiated as a part of the next “full” stimulus package when the House and Senate return to Washington next month.

Governor Andrew Cuomo mocked Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s promises to secure funding for the State in the bill. “Promise, promise, promise, promise, promise. Zero. Nada ,” Cuomo said. “And now, we’re in a position where we have to do a financial forecast and we have to tell school districts you should expect a significant cut.”

preliminary economic impact report from the Executive Chamber and the Division of the Budget painted an especially dire fiscal picture going into the second quarter. The report assessed New York at a $13.3 billion shortfall in revenue compared with its original forecast, representing a 14% decline in the state’s projected receipts and a forecasted $61 billion in total lost revenue between fiscal years 2021 and 2024. State Budget Director Robert Mujica added that state agencies will slash operations by 10 percent, and more than $10 billion in spending reductions are expected, with money for schools, health care, transit, nonprofits and local governments slashed. The financial plan also counts on $1.45 billion in additional Medicaid funding to New York State from the Federal Government . These dollars are a part of the $6.7 billion in enhanced Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage dollars that Cuomo said he could not accept and proceed with changes to Medicaid during the state budget process in March.

Interest in Governor Cuomo—and some of his fellow governors—has become so ubiquitous that bobbleheads are now available . Five dollars from every bobblehead sold goes to the American Hospital Association’s Protect the Heroes fund to support the 100 Million Mask Challenge .

During their meeting in Washington this week, Governor Cuomo said President Trump seemed “very open and understanding of” New York’s financial crisis and would work to fund states in the next stimulus bill. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested it would be better for states to be able to declare bankruptcy rather than have the federal government provide more money to help them through the coronavirus crisis. Dubbing it “one of the really dumb ideas of all time” Cuomo angrily challenged Republicans to pass a bill allowing states to do just that. “Pass the law. I dare you. You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble? … I dare you to do that.”

After weeks of shutdown, the nation began to slowly, cautiously re-emerge this week . New York, along with states like California and Illinois, remains on lockdown, but there are hints of reopening. Governor Cuomo had initially promoted a “one-size-fits-all” approach to reopening the State, but a growing number of elected officials and business advocates pushed the idea of regional variance in recent days, and this week the Governor committed to a regional reopening system.

In his Sunday briefing, Governor Cuomo laid out the first real outline of an initial reopening plan that will include businesses opening in phases, with low-risk construction and manufacturing businesses opening first, and more essential and lower-risk businesses after their reopening plan is approved. According to the Governor, Phase II reopening cannot begin while schools are still closed. Under Cuomo’s plan, for a region to open, it will need to report a flat or declining hospitalization rate for 14 days. The North Country and Central New York will likely begin the phased reopening sooner. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will oversee the transition in Western New York and former Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy will coordinate plans in the Rochester area.

Cuomo said a further decision on the NY PAUSE restrictions, which currently remain in effect until May 15, will be forthcoming this week.

Jack O’Donnell

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