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State houses present plans; on-time agreement expected

— The Senate’s proposal, meanwhile, calls for the growth takeover to happen within one year instead of three. But DeFrancisco pointed out that the money was still coming out of taxpayers’ pockets.

“The real problem isn’t what pocket it comes out of to pay it. The real relief isn’t going to come from capping it,” he said. “It comes from cutting back on the optional services the federal government doesn’t require us to provide. New York state provides a lot more under Medicaid than other states do, and it’s costing us. We’re going to get caught up in it sooner or later… The state continues to pay these exponential growth costs, and that means less money for education and other programs. There’s more money locally, which provides nice temporary relief, but it won’t last. We’ve got to cut back on these optional services so our costs altogether go down.”

Other major differences

The Senate’s budget also contained additional funding for the EPIC program, which provides low-cost prescriptions for seniors.

“In last year’s budget, it took some substantial cuts,” DeFrancisco said. “Both the Senate and the Assembly restored part of those cuts. This year, the governor kept the program at last year’s levels, so our budget restored more dollars for the EPIC program. That’s one of the things I’ve heard about most from people. We’re working hard to make that a reality.”

The Assembly’s proposal, meanwhile, calls for numerous tax cuts for middle-class families, as well as a Youth Jobs program that includes job training and tax credits to businesses that hire disadvantaged youth.

Despite the differences in the budgets, lawmakers believe they can put out a budget on time.

“I’m confident we can put something together by March 31,” DeFrancisco said.

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