Although the Governor’s budget recommendations signal the beginning of the negotiation process, I am pleased that he has acknowledged and included in his budget mandate relief, specifically citing the importance of addressing Medicaid and pensions, which are two of the biggest cost drivers to local budgets and burden property taxpayers.
Although I would have liked to have seen a more aggressive approach to the state taking over the local share of Medicaid costs, the governor’s willingness to address this issue represents a positive and beginning step in the right direction as we move forward with upcoming budget negotiations. I will continue to push for an immediate takeover of the local three percent growth in Medicaid costs, the same as I have introduced in legislation, A.8453, with Senator Tom O’Mara and my Assembly Minority colleagues.
I am also encouraged the governor wants to maintain a fiscally disciplined budget that holds the line on taxes and controls state spending through the continued reform and restructuring of our state government in order to achieve a more cost-efficient and streamlined state operation.
As we move forward with education reform, it is imperative that the state’s education formula recognizes the need to adequately and fairly fund upstate, rural schools which are primarily low- and average-wealth districts so that our children are afforded the same opportunities and can compete with higher-wealth downstate schools and be assured of a sound, quality education.
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