De Blasio Fights Gov. Cuomo's Proposal to Shift Costs From State to City

Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed Thursday to fight a proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would shift hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid and higher education costs from the state to the city.

The mayor said the cuts in state funding to the city — an estimated $800 million this year that is expected to rise to $1.5 billion by 2020 — cannot be absorbed without deep reductions to other city services.

He said he would urge state lawmakers to reject the proposal, now contained in Cuomo's $145 billion state budget recommendation unveiled Wednesday. The proposal would make the city responsible for increases in its local Medicaid program, and require a $485 million contribution to the City University of New York system.

"We will fight these cuts," de Blasio told reporters. "We will ask the assistance of both houses of the Legislature in fighting these cuts. They are unprecedented and they are unfair to this city."

But Thursday evening, the mayor's office released a statement, saying de Blasio looked forward to cooperating with the governor in finding more ways to operate Medicaid and CUNY programs with taxpayers' interest in mind.

Speaking earlier Thursday to NY1, Cuomo said the changes are part of an effort to make government more efficient, and that, under his plan, the city could actually avoid any higher costs by working with the state to root out bureaucratic waste at CUNY and Medicaid.

"At the end of the day, it won't cost New York City a penny," he said. "We will make joint streamlining, policy efficiency changes."

Cuomo and de Blasio have feuded repeatedly over a long list of issues. The mayor dismissed questions about whether Cuomo is using the budget to retaliate.

"I am going to keep being me. I'm going to keep doing what I believe in," de Blasio said. "And I'm going to fight for what this city needs in Albany."

Cuomo defended his budget, calling it the best for New York City in decades. He noted that his proposals also include $20 billion to address homelessness, big investments in city schools, an overhaul at Penn Station and transit funding that will pay for new busses and the redesign of 30 subway stations.

Medicaid is the state budget's largest component. The federal government funds 51 percent of the program, with the state paying 36 percent and local governments paying 13 percent. Currently, the state covers year-to-year increases in Medicaid costs for local communities.

Cuomo's budget would make the city responsible for some of its new Medicaid growth, saving state resources but costing the city an estimated $180 million next year and increasingly higher amounts later. De Blasio predicted the amount could exceed $1 billion by 2020.

As justification, the governor's budget recommendation notes that the city is not subject to a property tax cap imposed on other local governments in the state. This makes the city "uniquely positioned to assume responsibility for a portion of its Medicaid growth," Cuomo's administration wrote.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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