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State houses present plans; on-time agreement expected

— DeFrancisco noted that determining the best destination for those funds won’t be easy.

“Of course, ‘high-needs’ is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Everybody’s trying to protect their own districts. I suspect we’ll be working a lot on that between now and the final budget proposal. The governor is willing to consider it. It just comes down to how the language will be written.”

The assembly’s budget also redirected the money Cuomo had set aside. It takes that $200 million and directs $178 million to the school aid formula, $10.2 million for Teacher Centers, $1 million for Adult Literacy programs and $1 million in additional support for the Comprehensive Attendance Program for non-public schools.

Medicaid relief

In general, all three proposals agree on Cuomo’s proposal to cap spending growth on Medicaid for counties; it’s the timing and specific details that have yet to be worked out.

The state enacted a phased-in 3 percent cap in 2005 that went into effect in 2008; however, many counties complained that, since the tax cap is 2 percent, Medicaid still put a huge burden on their budgets. Under Cuomo’s proposal, starting with this budget, the state will phase in a program over the next three years to hold the counties harmless from any Medicaid increases. This year, the counties will still abide by the 3 percent cap, but by 2015-16, they will pay 0 percent, and the state will be responsible for that amount. Cuomo’s proposal also calls for a state takeover of the administration of Medicaid programs from the counties.

Both the Senate and the Assembly are on board with the basic idea of the state taking over Medicaid growth from the counties. The Assembly, however, has concerns about the administrative takeover.

“All the Assembly version does is asks that we work with each county to work out how the process takes place — what employees get hired, etc,” said Will Barclay (R-Pulaski). Barclay serves on the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. “We want a partnership with the counties.”

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