For Immediate Release - 5/03/2023
Statement From NYSAC President Michael E. Zurlo On State Budget Agreement
Most significantly, the budget undermines counties' ability to control the growth of property taxes by pocketing federal Medicaid funding that has historically been shared with counties. These funds were championed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and earmarked for local government taxpayers.
The state's decision to intercept these funds is totally unnecessary and counterproductive. It will increase Medicaid costs for property taxpayers by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, plus a one-time loss of $1.6 billion of previously owed Medicaid savings that the State has decided to withhold indefinitely. This unilateral action undermines prior Governors M. Cuomo, Pataki, Spitzer, Paterson, and A. Cuomo's efforts to rein in the impact on local property taxes associated with the state's Medicaid program. New York counties send to Albany nearly $8 billion each year as the local share of Medicaid expenses and have no control over the costs of the program.
While we're frustrated by the inclusion of this cost shift, we commend the State Legislature for their efforts to remove this provision from the budget and for securing an agreement to phase out the funding over several years, rather than immediately shifting these costs to local taxpayers.
The budget also targets local taxpayers to finance the state's decision to double the rates for a special class of public defense attorneys known as 18-B assigned counsel. While an increase in these pay rates is warranted, the state once again abdicates its constitutional responsibility to fund its own policies by raiding previously budgeted funds to finance the increase.
New York State is at a crossroads with a soaring cost of living and a declining population. Reversing this trend starts with reversing the State's self-sabotaging habit of disguising the true cost of its budget actions by passing those costs on to local governments, who in turn must raise property and sales taxes to cover those new costs. This is regressive and disproportionately impacts seniors and working-class New Yorkers.
New York's counties want to be part of the solution. We are in the business of providing essential services that make an immediate and tangible impact on the lives of New Yorkers. We should all be building thriving communities where residents can afford to raise their kids, start a business, or retire with dignity.
Unfortunately for all, this budget makes all those goals much harder to achieve.
Media Contact: Mark LaVigne | MLavigne@nysac.org | 518-465-1473 x206