If there is one thing we might all agree upon in this holiday impeachment season, it’s that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has bungled the state budget.

Halfway through the year, the state is predicting a $6.1 billion shortfall.

But what you really need to understand is that this is not due to an economic downturn or reduction in revenues. In fact, state revenues are $428 million above what was projected in the first quarter.


Gov. Cuomo needs to addresses Medicaid shortfalls immediately.

The problem is the rising cost of Medicaid, and according to the Empire Center, everything the governor has done to address Medicaid costs over the past few years has made things worse.

Approximately a third of New York residents receive some form of Medicaid. It provides health care to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant woman, those with disabilities and elderly adults, many whom live around here.

Glens Falls Hospital has pointed to the prevalence of Medicaid patients who use its services, meaning the hospital can ill-afford to have reductions in payments.

What bothers us is Gov. Cuomo’s failure to act on the Medicaid problem.

We voiced our concern back in the spring when Gov. Cuomo rolled over $1.7 billion in Medicaid payments into the next fiscal year – without telling anyone – to delay addressing the problem at all.

That is part of why the state is in this fix now.

The Medicaid problem has ballooned from the $1.7 billion in the spring to $4 billion for the fiscal year, which runs through March 31.

The problem was revealed when the state released its Mid-Year Financial Plan Update last month. It is probably telling that the report came out 23 days late.

The Empire Center’s Bill Hammond took a deep dive into the numbers and found that just about any cost having to do with Medicaid has proven far higher than the state originally projected.

Hiking the minimum wage has proven far costlier than the state expected, even though the state was warned. New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in 2016 that the wage hikes could have a $100 million impact on the state.

Hammond figured with the state’s 80,000 health care workers getting raises from $10 an hour to $15 an hour over the next few years, the impact on taxpayers could eventually reach $800 million. The number this year is 28 percent higher than was projected in the budget, and is expected to rise further as minimum wage raises go up.

According to the Empire Center, Gov. Cuomo granted a rate hike to hospitals and nursing homes just before Election Day that was worth hundreds of millions of dollars to some of his top political allies and contributors.

While Gov. Cuomo has now acknowledged the problem, he has been slow to implement any cost-cutting measures. That has allowed the red ink to continue. In the mid-year report, state officials said they would delay another $2.2 billion in payments and find $1.8 billion in cuts.

But no one knows what the cuts will be.

Or when they will happen.

This comes at a time when education leaders are seeking a $2 billion increase in aid as well.

And nobody likes to say no to schools.

Living up to their tax-and-spend reputation, Democratic leaders in the Legislature seem more inclined to boost “revenues” – they mean raise taxes – than to make any cuts. And with the Democrats now controlling the Senate, a check on higher taxes seems less likely.

Newspaper reports indicate a new three-bracket tax system might be proposed to raise the taxes on New York’s wealthiest.

We suspect that makes everyone nervous.

We’d prefer if the administration took a hard look at spending in all departments, but especially with Medicaid. Gov. Cuomo has to backtrack and return to past policies on Medicare to limit its cost per person growth.

That’s where the problem is.

Unfortunately, we know how this will go.

We will hear a lot of talk about the budget problems during the spring, then in late March a budget will be passed in the middle of the night, with New Yorkers like us locally paying a plethora of higher fees to help raise money and somebody paying more in taxes.

We want to remind Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature that New York is already one of the highest-taxed states.

We should watch closely in January to see what fixes Gov. Cuomo proposes.

We’d prefer to see some ideas now.

© 2019 The Post Star

You may also like

Policy analyst: Cuomo wrong to write-off nursing home criticism as political conspiracy

“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said. Read More

EDITORIAL: Nursing home report requires a second opinion

No doubt, the Health Department and the governor would like this report to be the final word on the subject. But if it’s all the same with them, we’d still like a truly independent review. Read More

NY Health Department Asserts Cuomo Order ‘Could Not Be the Driver’ of Nursing-Home Deaths in the State

The New York State Department of Health has concluded that an executive order requiring nursing homes to readmit coronavirus patients, issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo, was not the driving factor behind coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes. Read More

Independence of New York’s nursing home report faces scrutiny

When New York released a study absolving the state as well as nursing homes and other health care facilities of blame for the more than 6,000 COVID-related nursing home deaths, health care industry leaders quickly confirmed the state’s findings in statements issued by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Read More

Health insurers ask for average 11.5% premium increase amid COVID-19 uncertainty

Health insurance companies regulated by the state are waiting to hear back about their requests for 2021 rate changes for premium holders. The companies, like nearly every other industry, face many uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and their requests vary widely. Read More

Hammond: We Need To Learn What Happened In Nursing Homes

Why did more than 6,000 nursing home residents die in New York during the height of the coronavirus pandemic? Read More

NY’s ‘cash out’ policy has survived a lot. Can it outlast the pandemic?

With the pandemic damaging the economy, fiscal experts question whether New York will continue to sustain a generous policy that lets police, teachers and other public employees cash in unused vacation, sick and other paid days off when they leave a job — or whether the system has become so ingrained in politics that it’s considered off limits no matter what. Read More

Lawsuit may hold MTA in violation of Freedom of Information Law over payroll disclosure

The Empire Center for Public Policy plans to take the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to court for allegedly violating the Freedom of Information Act for failure hand over payroll records of MTA cops to the government transparency group. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@empirecenter.org


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.