Local concerns mount over reducing NY’s $6 billion budget gap

wwny Local concerns mount over reducing NY’s $6 billion budget gap

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to find ways to cut down the $6 billion budget gap New York state faces this year. Some local Republican politicians are concerned one solution could cost the counties.

In Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech Wednesday, he briefly addressed the state's $6 billion budget deficit.

He attributes it largely to how the state pays for local Medicaid costs.

"Six years ago, we froze the cost of Medicaid to local governments, to help those local governments meet their property tax cap," said Cuomo.

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk says Medicaid costs make up a large portion of the budget gap.

"Four billion dollars of that is considered Medicaid increase costs over the last year. It's astronomical," said Walczyk (R. - 116th District).

When asked for a solution, here's what Cuomo had to say:

"We have restructured Medicaid before with our MRT program, and we're going to have to do it again this year."

And it has local lawmakers like Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush scratching his head, and a bit concerned.

"Is he talking about going and pushing that cost down to our local counties and municipalities? Is that what he's talking about? Well, if it is, that's why I'm saying I'm against that," said Blankenbush (R. - 117th District).

Senator Joe Griffo says details are coming this month. He also warns against putting Medicaid costs onto local governments.

"I look forward to his budget address in two weeks, because that's when we'll get more of the specifics as to how he's going to approach it. One thing I think you need to avoid is to cost shift that burden to the local governments," said Griffo (R. - 47th District).

Walczyk says he has some ideas about addressing the budget gap that won't shift the cost onto local taxpayers.

"What we need to do in the short term is cut spending at the state level. And, what we need to do in the long term is look at these social programs and figure out whether we're creating a system that actually keeps people in poverty, and keeps them motivated to stay in poverty," he said.

Officials from the state’s Division of the Budget say the Executive Budget will be introduced later this month and by law it must be balanced.

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