capital-1-pic-copy-150x150-1108330Medicaid and other health-care issues dominated the most-read posts on the Empire Center’s NYTorch blog in 2019—a year that’s ended under the shadow of a major state Medicaid budget overrun first disclosed on this site.

Energy, education, tax policy and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were other issue areas popular with blog readers in the past 12 months. Based on website page views, here is the countdown of the NYTorch Top 10 for 2019:

#10: AOC’s 70% hit on NY
E.J. McMahon, Jan. 6
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Queens kicked off her congressional career by proposing to finance a “Green New Deal” program with a 70 percent top federal tax rate on incomes of $10 million or more—which would gouge New York’s tax base, in particular.

#9: Wind bids rigged for unions
Ken Girardin, Aug. 26
The Cuomo administration appears to have violated state law by forcing offshore wind developers to cut deals with construction unions, inflating costs and boxing out non-union subcontractors on billions in construction work.

#8: Cuomo signals a Medicaid crunch
Bill Hammond, Aug. 13
The Cuomo administration’s quarterly budget update included a warning for the state’s health-care industry: Medicaid cuts could be coming.

#7: Parsing Cuomo’s health-care cuts
Bill Hammond, Feb. 22
Governor Cuomo’s new budget-balancing plan is roiling the state’s health-care industry because it trims Medicaid spending while leaving education and other programs untouched.

#6: Cuomo’s self-inflicted crisis
Bill Hammond, Nov. 22
The remarkable thing about the state’s multi-billion-dollar Medicaid crisis is that it is almost entirely the result of the Cuomo administration’s own actions.

#5: NY per-pupil spending reaches $23k
E.J. McMahon, May 21
New York’s spending on elementary and secondary education reached a record $23,091 per pupil in 2017, 89 percent above the national average and once again topping all other states in this category, according to the latest U.S. Census data.

#4: Cuomo blows a natural gasket
Ken Girardin, Nov. 12
Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to yank the license of a major downstate natural gas supplier—because he didn’t like how the company responded to his refusal to permit a new supply pipeline.

#3: Policing the MTA’s overtime police
E.J. McMahon, May 9
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority assigned its own police force to monitor attendance and overtime use by Long Island Railroad employees, but a review of SeeThroughNY’s searchable payroll database indicates the MTA Police agency hasn’t exactly been skimping on its own employees’ overtime and other extra pay, such as shift differentials and holiday pay

#2: Health costs spiral in NY
Bill Hammond, Aug. 9
New York’s employer-sponsored health insurance premiums—already among the steepest in the mainland United States—rose faster than the national average in 2018, pushing the state’s affordability gap to new heights.

#1: Cuomo’s $1.7B Medicaid mulligan
Bill Hammond, July 9
This year’s state budget came with a hidden asterisk: In the final throes of negotiations with legislative leaders, Governor Cuomo quietly postponed a month’s worth of Medicaid payments from the last week of March to the first week of April – shifting $1.7 billion in spending from one fiscal year to the next.

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