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February 7, 2011

Lt. gov. seeks support for Cuomo budget

PLATTSBURGH — PLATTSBURGH — Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy was here Monday to garner support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget, which aims to eliminate the projected $10 billion shortfall without tax increases or borrowing.

“There are no easy answers for the conditions we’re in in New York state,” Duffy told community leaders gathered at the West Side Ballroom.

AID FORMULAS

He said one of the best moves Cuomo has made is to expose formulas that automatically increase annual Medicaid and education spending. Spending would have increased 13.2 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, in 2010-11 under the current formulas.

“The governor has put a light on in a very dark room that is Albany budgeting,” Duffy said during a press conference after his presentation.

He said that when special-interest groups complain about 2-percent cuts in funding, what they are really complaining about is an 11-percent increase in aid instead of 13 percent.

“One thing we have to admit in New York state is we have a spending addiction,” Duffy said.

FUTURE FORMULAS

Under Cuomo’s plan, future Medicaid increases would be tied to the 10-year rolling average of the medical-care component of the Consumer Price Index, currently 4 percent.

School-aid growth in future years would be tied to a new Gap Elimination Adjustment formula, created by permanent law that limits spending growth based on growth in personal income, currently also 4 percent.

POOR RESULTS

Duffy said the state doesn’t get results for its spending. Although it is ranked first in education spending, it is ranked 34th nationally in testing results.

It also ranks first in Medicaid spending and economic-development spending, yet is 21st in health-care results and 50th for friendliness to business.

“If we’re No. 1 in this spending, we should be No. 1 in results, and we’re not,” Duffy said.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Cuomo’s budget would establish 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, chaired by Duffy, one-stop shops for all state-supported economic-development and business-assistance programs.

The spending plan would make $130 million available for competitively determined economic-development programs put forth by the Regional Councils.

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