Governor Cuomo to outline budget proposal Tuesday

State faces $6.2 billion deficit as governor prepares proposal

Mike Baggerman
January 21, 2020 - 3:00 am

Governor Andrew Cuomo at the University at Buffalo's Jacobs School of Medicine on April 19, 2018 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WBEN) - Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday will release his 2020 budget proposal, amid the state's $6.2 billion budget deficit, something that the Cuomo administration largely blames to the rising costs in Medicaid.

"We now face federal cuts and we must correct for cost increases incurred when local governments were held harmless by the state for medicaid increases," Cuomo said during his State of the State address earlier this month.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said that $4 billion of the deficit is due to the costs of Medicaid. She blamed the federal government for abdicating its responsibility to fund it properly and for cutting back at a time when health care services have expanded in New York.

"We now have 95 percent of all New Yorkers covered with health care but part of that is because of the ability to expand medicaid under the Affordable Care Act," Hochul said. "We have more people being covered. It costs more money. More people are taking advantages of services like substance abuse programs."

She also said another driver of the cost of medicaid is the cost of labor.

"The governor is going to talk about re-invigorating and re-activating the medicaid redesign team," Hochul said. "This is not the first time we've been down this path. When the governor was elected, he brought in a $10 billion deficit, much of it driven by the cost of medicaid. We brought in the experts, looked at costs, and looked at the costs of prescription costs and why they're so expensive."

Lawmakers in Western New York said they're looking forward to hearing what the governor's priorities are. Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples Stokes said that marijuana may be among the budget discussions this year.

"I don't think we can identify what revenues (there are) with the exception of investing in the communities that have been mass incarcerated in the war on drugs," Stokes said. "Once we legalize adult use, I think it will take us at least 18 months before there is a regulatory process in place that would identify what potential revenues could be and what their uses could be."

Stokes believes this year will yield a different result with marijuana because of the shifting attitudes towards marijuana. She referenced the change in attitude by Peter Harckham, a state senator from downstate who was against it last year but recently came out in support of it.

Like Stokes, State Senator Tim Kennedy, supports legalization of marijuana and said New York is lagging behind neighbor states.

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