Cuomo Looks To Fix Medicaid Spending, Legalize Marijuana In 2020

Governor Andrew Cuomo presents his fiscal year 2021 Executive Budget in Albany. Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

ALABNY – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo aims to fix Medicaid spending and legalize marijuana in 2020.

Governor Cuomo on Tuesday unveiled a $178 billion state budget proposal that hinges on a plan to launch a team tasked with reining in the nation’s largest Medicaid program.

Cuomo says the Medicaid Redesign Team will be asked to find ways to trim $2.5 billion in spending from the program.

“And this is something to be proud of,” Cuomo said. “But the Medicaid system has to be fiscally sustainable.”

The Governor didn’t specifically say where he expected savings to come from, but he hinted the healthcare industry, which has feared an increase in taxes on health insurance that insurers warn could hike consumer costs, may have to provide “new resources.”

Additionally Cuomo says the savings must have “zero impact” on Medicaid beneficiaries.

State Senator George Borrello says New York’s proposed budget fails to address the ‘elephant in the room,’ how Cuomo plans to fix the state’s bail reforms.

“I was hoping to hear him call for more spending restraint across the board, particularly with regard to the state’s unsustainably expensive Medicaid program which needs to be reformed to bring its costs and benefits more in line with other states and reduce fraud and abuse,” said Borrello. “I had also hoped to hear a plan for repealing or amending the harmful bail and criminal justice changes which – overnight – have made our communities more dangerous and threaten decades of progress in reducing crime rates.”

Borrello says a few proposals he would be willing to through his support behind.

Governor Andrew Cuomo presents his fiscal year 2021 Executive Budget in Albany. Photo by Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Senator says the state’s $175 million Workforce Development Initiative is crucial to creating opportunities for young people and building a jobs pipeline that employers desperately need.

“In my discussions with businesses around the district, they repeatedly cite a lack of skilled workers as one of the top obstacles to their growth,” explained Borrello. “I was also glad to hear about the proposed cut in the corporate tax rate for small businesses, from 6.5 percent to four percent.”

The release of Cuomo’s proposal launches a process that includes hearings starting next week, legislative spending proposals and tweaks from the governor ahead of a March 31 deadline.

Cuomo’s latest budget proposal, for example, includes a range of policies: prohibiting higher prices for products geared toward women, legalizing gestational surrogacy, a task force to consider expanding labor protections for so-called “gig economy” workers, stricter gun policies and adding “e pluribus unum” to New York’s coat of arms.

The budget proposal also includes the creation of a new crime that targets domestic terrorism and includes $2 million for the state police’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

The governor is also trying once again to legalize marijuana in New York.

Sales to retail dispensaries will be taxed at 20% under the governor’s proposal, which would also tax the cultivation of cannabis at $1 per gram of dry weight cannabis flower and 25 cents per gram of dry weight cannabis trim.

Legalization efforts failed last year over disagreements on where an estimated $300 million in annual revenues from marijuana sales should go. Lawmakers instead reduced criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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