Cuomo presents his executive budget

— Economic development

One of the initiatives to come out of the budget proposal is the New York Works Fund and Task Force, an economic development team that aims to spur growth in the state. Public funds will be used to start development, but they’ll be used to encourage private investment. The initiative calls for $1.3 billion in taxpayer money to invite up to $25 billion in investment from other sources, including private companies, the federal government and authorities, to allow major projects to move forward that will create jobs and improve the state’s infrastructure.

Cuomo used the controversial Aqueduct Convention Center proposal in Queens as an example.

“The company owns it,” he said. “This is a reputable company that has all of their licenses and everything in order. This project is at their cost. They operate it. You’re talking about a potential for $4 billion in activity to the state with virtually zero in investment from the state, and we don’t put a shovel in the ground. I think that’s a prime example of entrepreneurial government.”

In particular, Cuomo’s proposal called for $1 million in state money to address chronic poverty in Buffalo, noting that it could spur as much as $5 million in private investment in the downtrodden city.

In addition, this portion of the budget would offer capital funding to communities through the New York Works program.

Mandate reform

Next, Cuomo addressed mandate reform.

“Mandate reform is something everybody wants to do in concept,” Cuomo said, “except nobody really wants to do it when they learn what it is.”

The two biggest issues in New York state in terms of mandate reform are Medicaid and pensions, because those are the costliest at both the local and the state level.

In terms of Medicaid, the state enacted a phased-in 3 percent cap in 2005 that went into effect in 2008; however, many counties complained that, since the tax cap is 2 percent, Medicaid still put a huge burden on their budgets. Therefore, starting with this budget, the state will phase in a program over the next three years to hold the counties harmless from any Medicaid increases. This year, the counties will still abide by the 3 percent cap, but by 2015-16, they will pay 0 percent, and the state will be responsible for that amount.

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