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De Blasio, Cuomo staffs yet to discuss potential $1B dispute

Mayor de Blasio's budget director Dean Fuleihan testifies

Mayor de Blasio's budget director Dean Fuleihan testifies at the City Chambers at a public hearing on Mar. 1, 2016. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Promised talks have yet to begin between the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations to avoid almost $1 billion in threatened state cuts, and the city has no contingency plans in case the cuts materialize, the mayor’s budget director testified Tuesday.

Appearing before a City Council committee, New York City budget director Dean Fuleihan said, “we have had no conversations at this point” with Cuomo’s staff to figure out how to identify the efficiencies in the City University of New York and Medicaid that the governor has called for.

“I have been told by the governor’s staff they will be reaching out to me — soon,” Fuleihan said under questioning by Council Finance Committee chairwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens).

Cuomo’s proposed cuts includes shifting about a third of CUNY’s senior-college costs — about $485 million for the upcoming fiscal year — to the city’s budget from the state’s, as well as about $299 million less for Medicaid. The reductions also include about $200 million related to state debt payments.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has openly feuded with de Blasio since early in his the mayor’s term, proposed the changes in the governor’s preliminary budget in January, but later promised that the tightened state spending wouldn’t “cost the city a penny.”

Nevertheless, the reductions remained in an updated budget the governor unveiled last month.

Fuleihan said after the hearing that the city has no contingency plans because he expects the governor to keep his word that the cuts wouldn’t cost the city anything. He said he’s also counting on the state legislature to help.

But an administration official speaking anonymously suggested that de Blasio’s team was considering “all the different scenarios” but didn’t want to say so publicly because to do so could be viewed as tacit acceptance of unacceptable cuts.

A Cuomo spokeswoman, Dani Lever, said in an email that “the state is fully committed to working to find efficiencies, and we will discuss it with all relevant parties in the coming weeks.”

The budget state budget is due April 1. The city’s must be done by July 1. De Blasio has proposed a plan for the next fiscal year totaling $82.1 billion.

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