Recently, members of the Assembly Minority conference and I mapped a way for state and local taxpayers to save millions of dollars by reducing mandates, sharing services and implementing new technology.
Our "better government" plan proposes a shift of local Medicaid costs to the state, which will result in a more efficient administration and reduced expenses. In addition, it includes the creation of a new statewide computer tracking system, "NY-stat," which is expected to successfully help reduce violent crime and ensure that government resources are targeted where they are needed most.
In addition to a phased-in, five-year state takeover of local Medicaid costs, I support a minimum of $200 million in emergency Medicaid relief in the 2004-05 state budget to help counties grappling with the surging cost of Medicaid. Similar plans have been proposed by both Gov. George Pataki and the state Senate Majority. These proposals are the only way to ease the overwhelming budget burden our counties are facing.
Similarly, the "NY-stat" plan would use a high-tech, data-tracking system to identify government wastefulness. The program would help officials improve the delivery of vital government services, beginning with those administered by one or two state agencies.
Local governments around the country have created their own versions of "NY-stat," where officials have projected savings of up to $70 million a year. Savings result in better allocation of resources and reduction of waste, such as excessive official vehicles, surplus supplies and managing overtime. Additionally, Buffalo, Suffolk and Onondaga counties are eying systems of their own. If adopted, New York would be the first to have a statewide system.
As a former county legislator, I know the importance of inter-municipal cooperation. Presently, municipalities are forced to initiate their own cost-saving cooperative projects. The METRO-STAR initiative would give municipalities the opportunity to receive technical expertise and model cooperative efforts from similar communities. On top of that, it would provide one dollar of state aid for every dollar saved as an incentive to cooperate with neighboring communities.
Other provisions of our Assembly Minority Conference "better government" plan include:
- Medicaid fraud bounty – The plan would encourage counties to aggressively track down fraud by allowing them to retain both the state and local shares of looted Medicaid funds – by some estimates as much as 10 percent of Medicaid spending. Current law allows counties to keep just 25 percent of recovered funds.
- Ban unfunded mandates – The Assembly Minority Conference favors a ban on any unfunded mandate on local governments.
I believe this plan will help state and local governments meet the needs of their hard-working taxpayers, while reducing costs and improving government efficiency. We need common-sense reform, accountability and innovative new ideas to help ease the tax burden on New Yorkers and companies that want to do business in our state.
The proposals all are contained in the Assembly Minority Conference’s "Roadmap to Renewal" 2004 legislative program. Copies of the complete plan are available in my district office.