New York bishops urge Cuomo to remember the poor

shutterstock 1477126829 1 Gov. Andrew Cuomo, May 31, 2019. | David McGlynn/Shutterstock

The bishops of New York have spoken out against proposed cuts in the New York State budget, urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to add further burdens to the state's poor and vulnerable in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"As the governor considers the steps needed to restore our state to fiscal stability, the New York State bishops offer prayers for wisdom, as well as a reminder that the state must never balance its budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable," said a statement from the New York Catholic Conference released on Thursday, September 3. 

Reports suggest the state is considering cutting 20% of budgets across every department in the state to make up for its budget shortfall. 

While these cuts are "understandable," and appears on their face to be giving equal treatment to all departments, the bishops stated, "we must keep in mind that for the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers who depend on state-funded not-for-profit human services providers, social equity already eludes them, and always has."

"We must not turn our back on women fleeing domestic violence, immigrants seeking legal resources, people with physical or developmental disabilities, the frail elderly, struggling single mothers and their young children, families who are homeless, those who have lost their jobs and don't have enough food to put on the table, people suffering from addiction or mental illness, survivors of sexual abuse, offenders reintegrating into society, or the many other New Yorkers who most need our support," said the statement. 

While Catholic Charities has been able to care for some of the needy in the state, the bishops said that the challenges are "greater than ever" with increased demand and fewer donations due to an ailing economy and limited parish collections due to coronavirus restrictions. 

The state's bishops also noted that the New York State Constitution specifies that "the aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state," and pointed out that, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo's urging, the state added the phrase "E pluribus unum"--or "Out of many, one" to the state flag this past year. 

Cuomo, they said, faces an "unenviable reality" when it comes to keeping New York residents safe and dealing with the budget shortfall, but should "remember this sentiment of unity that includes our most vulnerable brothers and sisters" when deciding where to address budget shortfalls. 

New York was among the hardest hit areas in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the pandemic's peak, over a thousand people per day were succumbing to the disease in New York City alone. 

Cuomo at one point ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients and state figures have been disputed, with some suggesting that the real death tally in nursing homes may have been obscured.

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