NYC Hit Badly by Cuomo’s Budget, de Blasio Fights Back

ALBANY (AP/Hamodia) -

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 New York 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.

“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.”

Cuomo and de Blasio have feuded repeatedly over a long list of issues, but de Blasio 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,” he said. “And I’m going to fight for what this city needs in Albany.”

Speaking on WNYC radio Thursday, Cuomo defended his proposal and noted that his budget also proposes $20 billion to address homelessness, big investments in city schools, an overhaul at Penn Station and funding for the city’s mass transit system. He said the budget plan offered “the best arrangement for New York City for decades.”

“We’re bringing unprecedented state resources,” he told WNYC. “They’re getting a lot of additional funding.”

Medicaid is the largest single component in the state budget. The federal government funds roughly half the Medicaid costs, the state pays about 35 percent, while the counties and New York City cover 15 percent. Currently, the state now limits the amount of Medicaid increases local communities must pay.

Cuomo’s budget would increase New York City’s responsibility for covering new Medicaid spending, saving state resources but costing the city an estimated $180 million next year and increasingly higher amounts in future years. De Blasio predicted the amount could exceed $1 billion by 2020.

As justification for the shift, the governor’s budget recommendation notes that New York City, with its five counties, is not subject to a property tax cap imposed on all other local governments in the state. This makes the city “uniquely positioned to assume responsibility for a portion of its Medicaid growth,” he said.

The proposal would also require the city to chip in about $485 million next year for the City University of New York system.

Cuomo also proposed renewing de Blasio’s control over the schools system for three years, less than the seven wanted by the mayor but more than the one year which Albany gave in 2015. He also hit the mayor on homelessness, appointing city Comptroller Scott Stringer, a potential de Blasio 2017 primary opponent, to oversee the city’s response.