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Cuomo: Trump to cost NY billions; forces re-evaluation of NY budget

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, at the Hicksville Community Center on Wednesday with Suffolk and Nassau officials, restated his call to make the 2 percent cap on local property taxes permanent as part of this year's state budget. (Credit: New York State)

ALBANY – The Cuomo administration said Wednesday that the newly proposed federal budget would cut $4.3 billion in funding to New York and force a revamping of the state’s own proposed budget just a day after the state Legislature sought more spending.

“We have to re-look at the entire budget,” said Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Mujica. “We need to re-prioritize”

President Donald Trump proposed the $4.7 trillion budget on Monday, which in part cuts funding to states for Medicaid healthcare for the poor. More than 20 percent of Medicaid funding to New York would be cut, according to the Cuomo administration.

Whether the fear will be borne out, however, is unknown. Past attempts at include the cuts in other non-binding “skinny budgets” failed even when Republicans controlled the House and Senate in Washington.

The chances will be more remote in the House of Representatives now in Democratic control. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Trump’s proposal an “Alice in Wonderland document.”

“The changes may not be that likely, but the impacts would be really significant if they did happen,” said David Friedfel, director of state studies for the independent Citizens Budget Commission. “There are real risks of an economic recession which, in and of themselves, are reasons to revaluate the governor’s proposal and look at the legislative proposals with skepticism or concern about their spending levels.”

The news from Washington, however, bolsters Cuomo’s criticism of spending in budget proposals by the Democratic majorities of the state Senate and Assembly released Tuesday.

“The cuts are devasting,” Mujica said.

Mujica said the state budget will have to direct more funding to health care programs to compensate for potential federal cuts. He also said more state funding will be directed to reserves amid greater concern of a possible recession in the coming years.

Mujica said the proposed federal cuts to the Affordable Care Act would also mean 800,000 New Yorkers would find insurance unaffordable. He said hospitals that are already trying to trim their budgets under Medicaid cuts aren’t prepared for major cuts proposed by Trump on Monday.

The Legislature, which has pushed back at Cuomo several times this year, wasn’t fazed by the governor’s latest warnings of threats fromthe Trump administration.

“Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion,” said Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement.

“We have confidence in our Democratic House colleagues to stop this awful Trump budget proposal,” said Mike Murphy, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in a statement.

Cuomo’s top aides, however, said they are taking the threat of lost billions seriously after previous Trump proposals became law.

Mujica said that in addition to Medicaid cuts, the federal funding reduction would reduce social services and nutrition programs for the poor; as well as clean drinking water funds, and education and affordable housing programs.

“If even a portion of these cuts are allowed, that would be devastating,” Mujica said. He said the Cuomo administration has already restored $500 million in “manageable” Medicaid cuts it proposed in Cuomo’s budget.

The independent Citizens Budget Commission said Cuomo’s $175.2 billion budget increases state operating funds by about 3.4 percent. Cuomo is now negotiating a final budget deal with legislative leaders, but has already drawn several lines in the sand including a ban on new taxes beyond the ones he’s proposed; approval of his criminal justice reform package; and making the 2-percent cap on property tax growth permanent.

“I will tell you this as sure as I am before you today, if we do not have a permanent tax cap in that state budget, this hand will never sign that state budget,” Cuomo said at the Hicksville Community Center.

The Assembly didn’t include the measure in its one-house proposal, while the Senate passed it earlier this year.

"Ir reminds me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon, Yosemite Sam (saying),  'Don't cross this line, don't cross this line, don't cross this line," Heastie told NY1 amid increasingly testy budget talks.

Mujica and Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s chief of staff, said the Senate and Assembly proposals would increase spending by up to 6 percent, a contention the legislative leaders dispute.

“We need to move discussion from fantasy land to reality,” DeRosa said.

With Candice Ferrette and Robert Brodsky

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