New York about to give away $2.1 billion to ... "undocumented workers"?

Darren McGee/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo via AP

It’s a good thing Congress passed all of that state bloc-grant money in the COVID-19 relief bill, eh? Blue states demanded federal infusions to close budget gaps created by hits to tax revenues in the pandemic, gaps which turned out to be mostly illusory. Few if any governors were as vocal about it as New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who routinely and loudly complains that the Empire State over-contributes and under-benefits from federal disbursements even under normal conditions.

So what does Cuomo and New York plan to do with that relief money from Washington DC? Give it away to illegal immigrants, natch, as the New York Times reports:

When the coronavirus arrived in New York City a year ago, it hit enclaves of undocumented immigrants with a fury, killing thousands and wiping out the service and construction jobs that kept many families afloat.

Lifelines like unemployment insurance and federal stimulus checks were out of reach because undocumented people are ineligible for most government aid. Instead, they have relied on food pantries, lenient landlords and loans from friends.

But after a sweeping move by lawmakers this week, New York will now offer one-time payments of up to $15,600 to undocumented immigrants who lost work during the pandemic. The effort — a $2.1 billion fund in the state budget — is by far the biggest of its kind in the country and a sign of the state’s shift toward policies championed by progressive Democrats.

Let’s put this number in perspective. Americans have received three tranches of stimulus checks over the past year, amounting to $1200, $600, and $1400 per person earning below $200K in 2019. That’s a total of $3200 in individual benefits paid out by the federal government. New York plans on paying out five times that amount to illegal immigrants as a cash bonus.

They’re structuring it as retroactive quasi-unemployment insurance, perhaps mindful of the optics this will produce. They’re not looking particularly picky about eligibility, however:

Undocumented workers could receive up to $15,600, the equivalent of $300 per week for the last year, if they can verify that they were state residents, ineligible for federal unemployment benefits and lost income as a result of the pandemic.

That’s quite a giveaway, especially for a state which is supposed to be as financially strapped as New York. As Jazz pointed out a few days ago, the city and state of New York are hiking taxes on everyone else, achieving a glorious #1 ranking:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers are nearing a budget agreement that would increase corporate and income taxes by $4.3 billion a year and would make top earners in New York City pay the highest combined local tax rate in the country.

Democratic leaders of the state Assembly and Senate briefed legislators on Saturday on the tax plan, which was one of the last pieces of a roughly $200 billion state budget, people familiar with the deal said. The additional tax revenue would be used to increase school aid and create new funds for undocumented immigrants, small businesses and tenants who are behind on their rent, the people said.

Legislators were briefed on a plan under which income-tax rates would rise to 9.65% from 8.82% for single filers reporting more than $1 million of income and joint filers reporting more than $2 million, the people said.

Maybe all of those progressives in Albany and New York City can explain why they’re shaking down their citizens in order to give cash away to illegal immigrants. Perhaps some lawmakers in DC might want to hear that explanation, too — especially when New York comes back to the Beltway with hat in hand demanding more cash for its budget gaps.