Bernadette Hogan

Democratic State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said Tuesday the only way to combat the mammoth $6.1 billion budget deficit is to raise taxes.

“This is gonna be a tough budget year … unless money’s gonna fall from the sky,” Heastie told reporters in Albany.

“For us in the Assembly, we always believe in raising revenue.”

The state Division of Budget released its mid-year budget report last month, weeks after its legally mandated due date detailing a $6.1 billion gap in the state’s finances for next year.

Over half of that deficit accounts for the state Medicaid program, calculated at $4 billion.

“Cutting spending usually hurts a recession, usually the way you get out of a recession is encouraging spending. But we have a big problem here in terms of the Medicaid budget, but as far as we’re concerned in the assembly we always want to make sure we are providing adequate healthcare to the people in the state of New York,” Heastie added, saying he has yet to discuss the topic with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (D-Westchester).

But critics like Bill Hammond of the Empire Center for Public Policy claim New York’s Medicaid deficit doesn’t come from a “shortage of revenue” rather “an excess of spending.”

“New York’s program — which already costs more per capita than that of any other state — is currently running 16% over budget when the economy is growing and enrollment is stable. The elected officials in charge of this important program should be focused on fixing what’s broken, not throwing more fuel on the fire,” he told The Post.

Cuomo admitted to reporters last month during a press event in Schenectady that closing the Medicaid gap will pose “a major financial issue for the state for next year.”

State budget director Robert Mujica similarly said during a Business Council conference in September that the governor doesn’t support raising taxes in the 2020 budget.

A spokesman for the state Senate Democrats said the matter will be discussed next week during the conference’s annual retreat in Albany.

© 2019 New York Post

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