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Politics

Cuomo budget task forces deliver reports

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The governor's task forces are releasing their reports one by one.

No-new-taxes Cuomo has made an about face, reports James Odato at the Times Union.  The report that the governor's Medicaid task force submitted (and which is being included in the budget) boasts "fees" that look an awful lot like taxes to members of the business community:

But the redesign team he appointed gave him a report that he is sewing into his budget for the upcoming year, and it calls for taxing radiology visits and physician-based surgeries in the same way prior governors sought unsuccessfully to expand the surcharge on hospital discharges. Business groups across the state are hammering Cuomo on what they see as an about-face. His panel wants to expand the 9.63 percent surcharge on the other medical services to raise $100 million more a year. But that would add up to 2 percentage points more to health insurance premiums.

Eric Reinhardt at the Rochester Business Journal reports that the Business Council isn't the only pro-business organization that's ticked off:

Unshackle Upstate, a coalition of more than 80 Upstate business, trade, and economic-development groups, is also opposed to the HCRA recommendation. Additionally, the New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans opposes the recommendation, calling the proposal "egregious" because of the impact it will have on premiums.

Property tax cap
In Binghamton, local leaders are rallying against another key part of the governor's budget: a property tax cap.  Nancy Dooling writes at the Press & Sun-Bulletin that a tax cap would cripple the economy if it doesn't come along with fewer obligations to spend on programs like Medicaid (hence the above task force):

Without mandate relief, a two-percent cap will mean cutting into programs, said Mark D. LaRoach, superintendent of Vestal Central School District. "Frankly, everything we do in the district is on the table," LaRoach said. The district had talked about eliminating modified sports teams, although a committee has now been formed to try to find ways to cut the athletic department budget in other areas to save this program. "We're all in the same situation," said Peggy J. Wozniak, superintendent of the Binghamton City School District.

Speaking of mandate relief, yet another Cuomo commission is set to unveil their findings tomorrow, reports Joseph Spector at Gannett.  The "Mandate Relief Redesign Team" is set to offer "specific" recommendations, according to panel head Larry Schwartz:

"This report I believe begins the process of walking the walk, not talking the talk, and actually begins addressing the problem of unfunded mandates," Schwartz said. Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, a panel member, said she's hopeful there will be significant recommendations in the report. "Clearly we can't ignore the fact that we have unsustainable models when it comes to programs and services in New York, and a lot of those are required programs and most of those delivered by county governments," she said.

State workers
And while we're talking state budget, Spector and Cathey O'Donnell at Gannett have completed a review of state salaries.  Topping the list in 2010 was the former basketball coach at Binghamton University, with more than one million in salary.  Other top line findings

  • 243 Binghamton University employees made more than $100,000
  • 622 people made more than $200,000
  • 14 people made more than $500,000

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