Assemblywoman Amy Paulin hosted a news conference at the Westchester County Office Building in White Plains on Monday, October 3 to discuss her recently-introduced bill to reform county government Medicaid mandates. The legislation would, over time, shift those costs to the State of New York. Joining her were the sponsors of the Senate version of the bill, Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-Erie) and Senator Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga) and a large bipartisan group of supporters from the New York State Senate, New York State Assembly, and Westchester County Board of Legislators.
The bipartisan effort aims to relieve county governments of onerous burden of their largest unfunded mandate, which consumes 40 to 45 percent of most counties' property tax levies, by gradually shifting those costs to the New York State budget.
“I feel strongly that federal funding opportunities through the Affordable Healthcare Act, efficiencies to be achieved by the scheduled State takeover of all Medicaid administrative responsibilities in New York and savings realized by Governor Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team make for the right circumstances to effect this change," Paulin said. "We believe that counties can receive the mandate relief they desperately need without placing an undue burden on the State of New York's budget."
Paulin notes that Westchester County has once again been named as the location with America's highest real estate taxes, and that unless those taxes are brought under control the area risks losing residents to neighboring states. Last year, Medicaid costs consumed $211 million of Westchester County's property tax levies.
She also pointed out that while county Medicaid cost increases for counties are currently capped at 3 percent per year, property tax increases are capped at 2 percent -- so that even if counties raised their taxes by the full amount allowed under the state's property tax cap, they'd lose ground each year to the increases in Medicaid costs.
The bill (A.8644/S.5889B) has already garnered widespread bipartisan support among state and county representatives, and has been endorsed by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), the New York State Association Of County Executives, and the New York State Citizens’ Budget Commission.