NEW YORK governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are scrambling to conclude negotiations on the $132.5 billion 2012-13 state budget by March 31. As they push to finish their main piece of business, a few important items in the budget deserve notice: New York City will be unfairly penalised in the state Medicaid programme unless the Legislature adopts Cuomo’s Medicaid savings plan for local governments. The governor wants the state to assume all Medicaid cost increases for local governments by 2016. But upstate legislators are demanding that communities outside the city start paying less immediately, while the city continues to pay more. That would be unfair since the city serves about 70 percent of the state’s Medicaid population. The lawmakers should accept the governor’s straightforward proposal.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which serves 8.5 million riders daily, needs approval from Albany to increase its debt capacity by $7 billion, to $41 billion from $34 billion, and needs almost $800 million in state capital funds to keep its trains and buses rolling.
Lawmakers should include these measures in the budget package.
Last year, Senate Republicans pleaded for more time to study how to create a health insurance exchange where individuals and small businesses could buy coverage, as required by the federal health care reform law. Time is now running short. Cuomo has produced a reasonable health exchange plan. If New York does not create one tailored to meet the state’s particular needs, federal government will take over that responsibility, which could result in less coordination with local health programmes.