ALBANY – New York’s Senate and Assembly has voted to allocate $40 million toward fighting the Novel Coronavirus in New York State.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference Wednesday that there are six cases so far in the state.
Since the outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the state additional funding to conduct its own testing, but the Governor says he wanted $40 million allocated toward combating the virus.
“I think first, as a piece of legislation, it was critical, these quarantines, when we say someone has to be quarantined or we have to set up a congregate quarantine facility, you need the legal authority to do that,” said Governor Cuomo.
Cuomo says the federal funding allows the state to conduct 1,000 tests per day within the week.
Not everyone in the state agrees though, Local Senator George Borrello says the legislation excessively expands the duties of the governor.
Speaking to other lawmakers in the state capital, Borrello says the allocation is more like a “power grab” by Governor Cuomo.
“While I fully supported the funding appropriation, I could not support handing the Governor the power to act unilaterally during any event he deems an ‘emergency.’ The bill would have given him sweeping and sole authority to suspend and alter any state or local law or rule and issue directives,” explained Borrello. “It unnecessarily added language to allow the Governor to declare a wide spectrum of events as ‘disasters’ – even blight — giving him ultimate authority.”
Borrello says during his time as county executive, he had several crises arise that required quick action by the county legislature to approve emergency appropriations, not the executive office.
“Those occasions were never used as opportunities to expand the power of the executive and diminish the role of lawmakers,” said Borrello. “Had I attempted such a move, my colleagues would have voted “no” and rightly so. Many of my fellow legislators in both the Senate and Assembly, and from both sides of the aisle, expressed serious concerns with the overreach in this bill. That is why I could not, in good conscious, vote in favor of this measure.”
The U.S. outbreak began in January. Since then, six people have died from the disease; all of them were from Washington State.