PLATTSBURGH — North Country officials liked much of what they heard from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday about his 2012-13 budget.
"I think it is very good. There are no new taxes or fees, and it looks like he really is trying to contain state government," State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said.
Little said the state made some headway last year toward reducing a more than $10 billion deficit, but more needs to be done, and the governor's plans to streamline and merge some state agencies is a good approach.
"We still need to govern more efficiently, and there are many programs that are confusing and some that do seem like they do the same thing as another agency," she said.
'NOT FAR ENOUGH'
Cuomo's budget reform looks to drop the 3 percent Medicaid cap by one point annually to a flat zero cap for county governments over the next three years.
Essex County Manager Dan Palmer said the measure would shave $67,000 off of average increased costs next year.
"Normally, Medicaid goes up about $200,000 a year. So next year, it would go up $130,000 instead, with the 2 percent cap."
Medicaid costs Essex County $6.7 million per year, fully 44 percent of the tax levy.
"Right now, if the cost of Medicaid exceeds 3 percent, the state picks up the rest of it," Palmer explained the cap.
"This isn't going far enough, but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye, I guess. And it's a step in the right direction.
"Medicaid is not going to go away. If we get out 20 years and we're still paying $7 million, then it might look good. We (counties) wanted them to take over Medicaid altogether."
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) said the governor's Medicaid proposal would be a big help locally.