Joe Chen

New York policy leaders say that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to not exempt out-of-state health care workers from the state’s income tax makes the state appear ungrateful for their help.

“Cuomo told those he was asking to come to New York, if you help us, we’ll return the favor,” Steve Malanga, a George M. Yeager fellow at the Manhattan Institute and City Journal’s senior editor, told the Center Square. “By contrast, Cuomo’s action at a time of great need may undermine support for New York around the country.”

New York was the U.S. epicenter of COVID-19 cases during much of the pandemic and sought health care workers from other states to help treat patients.

At a news conference in early May, Cuomo said he couldn’t make an exemption for out-of-state health care workers when the state budget was in such a deficit because of COVID-19 restrictions that he couldn’t even pay essential services.

“The reality is that the revenue loss to the state would have been trivial and microscopic,” Edmund J. McMahon, the Empire Center of Public Policy’s founder and research director, told the Center Square. “His real concern probably had more to do with fear of opening a pandora’s box – since so many other essential workers commuting to [New York] from [New Jersey] and [Connecticut] are also paying New York state taxes, along with hundreds of thousands of normally Manhattan-based workers now working from home in other states.”

Ken Issacs, vice president of Samaritan’s Purse, the organization that had set up and run a temporary hospital in Central Park, told PIX11 News he is concerned not only about the money the workers lose, but also about the paperwork the volunteers will have to file in New York.

“There is already a pushback against the big requests for federal aid coming out of some states, especially New York,” Malanga said. “Cuomo thinks the state deserves a big piece of the federal pie because it had so many virus cases, but appearing ungrateful doesn’t help him build support.”

© 2020 The Center Square

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.