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Governor’s budget reforms Medicaid, pension system, boosts education aid some

— Gov. Cuomo proposed his executive budget recently and, overall, it’s a good start that addresses contentious issues and has the taxpayers in mind. It keeps spending at the same level as last year. It also proposes reforms to Medicaid and the pension system that will reduce the bloated, built-in increases my colleagues and I have talked about for years. Aid to education did increase. However, we still need a more equitable school aid distribution formula if we are to provide real education reform in this state.

The Governor likened this budget to putting the state on a new diet. I like this analogy. You may not see results overnight, but with discipline and a reformed way of living, the state will reduce its cholesterol and weightiness. I wanted to take some time this week to provide some highlights of the Governor’s budget speech he gave on Jan. 17.

Medicaid

The lion’s share of our counties’ budgets goes to pay for Medicaid. In Oswego County, the cost is estimated at 66 percent of the total budget. In Onondaga County, costs were estimated at $100 million in 2011 – the largest portion of its budget as well. Earlier this year, I signed onto legislation that would require the state to take over the local share of Medicaid. A number of years ago, the state did cap the local share of the growth of Medicaid. The Governor's budget, while not proposing a total takeover, is lowering that cap so that eventually the counties will not be responsible for any increase in Medicaid.

This would help counties, but it does not completely reduce the bill counties still have to pay. The Governor also is proposing reducing overall cost of Medicaid spending by $136 million. While we still have to reform Medicaid further, the Governor's proposal is a good start to providing some relief to counties.

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