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Governor talks Medicaid, education among other topics in Budget address

By HILARY LANE

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered the 2012 Budget Address from Albany on Tuesday, where he outlined his fiscal plans for the year. One area he focused on was the need for mandate reform throughout the state.

Medicaid is currently one of the most expensive mandates, costing local municipalities $8 billion a year state-wide.

Each year, Medicaid costs increase, but currently the state absorbs any growth over 3%. During his address, Governor Cuomo announced that in the 2013 fiscal year, counties will only be responsible for covering 2% of Medicaid growth. In 2014, that cap will be reduced to 1% and by 2015, the state will pay 100% of the costs of Medicaid growth.

"Now the Medicaid relief is something to look at. It at least freezes and absorbs the costs," says Senator Joseph Griffo. "It's a beginning. Now we will look at the numbers in detail."

Senator James Seward echoed the same sentiment.

"This is the first time in a budget address I heard a governor talk about a state takeover of excess Medicaid expenses," Senator Seward said. "This will help take it off the backs of local governments."

Besides Medicaid reform, Governor Cuomo pledged 4% more in school funding over last year's budgets. The details of how the money will be allocated have not yet been released.

"I think a number of proposals are going to help our area in terms of education," says Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. "We have a number of high needs children in our district that could use that money and I commend Governor Cuomo for that."

Local lawmakers also say they are impressed with the way the governor closed a $2 billion deficit with no new taxes or fees.

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