For the past few months, the governor has sounded as if he understands the importance of a strong upstate economy, and for the most part, his budget backs up that claim. However, the devil is always in the details, and the more I look into the budget proposal, the more I find that it doesnít go far enough. I was pleased to hear the governor call for a moratorium on land acquisition. Yet, raiding one million dollars from the snowmobile fund to balance the budget is an unacceptable infringement on upstate sportsmen. It was unacceptable last year when the governor proposed it, and itís unacceptable this year.
In regard to Medicaid reform, I once again feel the governor stopped short of whatís necessary. If we have the courage to purge corruption from the system, I think we need to try to recover $3 or $3.5 billion out of the $5 billion total Medicaid Fraud, not the mere $1.1 billion the governor is proposing. The fact is: our Medicaid spending must be put in line with the rest of the country. Our system serves 5.1 million people and costs $45 billion, far more than any other state, including California, which serves 10.2 million people at a cost of $35.9 billion. Thatís $10 billion less and twice as many people as New York. You know itís a racket when people move to New York not for job opportunities, but for Medicaid benefits. We need to really take a look at that Medicaid, and not only root out the waste, but take a hard look at what programs need to be cut.