“Do your job.”
That was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s message Sunday to lawmakers hesitant to show up in Albany as a state budget deadline looms and two state lawmakers tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Government is an essential operation to manage the situation. To me, that’s like saying: in a war when people might get killed at war, does it make sense to send soldiers?” the governor said Sunday during a press conference, elevating the importance of politicians’ responsibility.
“Should the Congress not show up? Should the police not show up? You’re asking nurses to show up and do their duty.
“It’s not like they’re working in a hospital or taking blood, they’re working in a state Capitol, reading paper and passing bills,” Cuomo continued.
The governor banned gatherings of 500 or more as part of his “density reduction” plan last week, adding guidelines for venues with capacities under 500 to limit their occupancy levels by 50 percent, but the rule doesn’t apply to government buildings.
The City Council will vacate its offices in Manhattan starting Monday, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced Saturday night, and all hearings and staff meetings are canceled.
“This is why you’re in government, this is why you’re here, if you don’t want to be here, you shouldn’t have run for elected office,” said Cuomo.
“If you didn’t want to do a public service at a time of crisis then you should be here.”
“Do your job,” he added.
“Legislators are people, I’m offering them the same guidelines I’m offering everyone. Social distancing, be smart, you’re elected officials be smart, like a business owner, like my kids, like my neighbors like everyone”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced on Twitter Saturday night two state lawmakers in their mid-60s tested positive for the virus — Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn).
The state Capitol Building is now closed to visitors and underwent a cleaning Sunday.
Lawmakers heading back up to Albany have been told to “pack heavy,” anticipating plans subject to change.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins announced Sunday afternoon she’s closing the chamber’s Manhattan office at 250 Broadway.
She’s also advising all member district offices to close — and asking all district office staff and non-essential central staff to work remotely.
“The Senate will return to the Capitol tomorrow for scheduled Session. Plans are being developed for a future schedule and safety protocols while working towards an expedited State Budget,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
Meanwhile state Assembly Democrats had an afternoon planning call, with Heastie encouraging pols to come to Albany at least Monday to vote on two measures.
The first piece of legislation would expand the state’s paid sick leave policy for both public and private businesses, the second would change when campaign petitions are due.
Budget talks are expected to continue ahead of April 1, sources say.
Cuomo has said he wants to “accelerate” the budget process, noting coronavirus has likely disrupted state revenues for next year.
He has also asked state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to present a recalculation of revenues this week.