New York's $212 billion budget will restore $600 million in raises retroactively for state workers that had been withheld over the last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said.

The provision will affect thousands of state employees, many of whom are members of the Civil Service Employees Association.

The money, which amounted to 2% pay raises for public workers, had been withheld by state officials for the last year as the state faced a cash crunch due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New York's move to close businesses and public gathering spaces led to a sharp downturn in revenue for the state. New York borrowed billions of dollars and withheld the pay hikes in order to keep its cash flow healthy to respond to the crisis. 

The borrowed money has been paid back, and Congress last month approved a $12.5 billion relief package for the state. 

Cuomo at a news conference thanked state workers for their response to the pandemic. 

"We asked you to leave your home every day and expose yourself to danger so other people could stay home and be safe," Cuomo said. "That required so many other people to go to work. Those state workers showed up so the lights could stay on. Those state workers to me were true heroes."