The New York Times
February 21, 2013
The latest budget package from Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, unveiled this week, has a distressing $500 million hole, caused by a change in the way the federal government will reimburse the state for the care of people with disabilities. Federal regulators have said that the state has been overbilling Medicaid for those services.
The hole, which could require cuts elsewhere, is only one of several concerns about a $142 billion package for the 2013-14 fiscal year that is due by April 1. There are also questions about whether Mr. Cuomo will fulfill his promises to raise the minimum wage and create a fairer campaign financing system much like New York City’s.
To adjust the Medicaid billing and cope with the resulting gap in federal reimbursements this year, Mr. Cuomo said he planned to take $120 million from the budget for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and $380 million from Medicaid programs.
Mr. Cuomo appeared to have delayed an announced plan to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 an hour. He said the proposal had been “complicated” by President Obama’s push to raise the federal minimum to $9. Republicans in the State Senate, whose support Mr. Cuomo will need, say they want to wait for Washington to act. But because a higher federal wage might not be in place for years, New York should move on its own. Mr. Cuomo insisted this week that he still plans to push for a higher state minimum wage but later in the session, perhaps by June.
The budget is also missing the necessary financing for a public campaign system that the governor has promised in his reform agenda. Advocates for a system of matching funds like the one in New York City have estimated that the state’s cost would be about $40 million a year. That is a small price to pay to encourage small donors and limit the influence of a few powerful special interests.