Friend: Assembly Majority is planning to Use Taxpayers to Fix Their $6.1 Billion Budget Gap

December 6, 2019

Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend (R,C,I-Big Flats) is troubled by the recent report from the Division of Budget which indicates that the state is facing a $6.1 billion deficit in next year’s budget, with about half is due to Medicaid spending. There is a $4 billion Medicaid imbalance in the current fiscal year. The Assembly Majority Speaker Carl Heastie said he would like to raise revenue or taxes to make up the shortfall.

“I do not know how much clearer I could have been over the years, our state spending has been unsustainable. New York is now facing a $6.1 billion deficit, and Assembly Majority is already talking about raising taxes on New Yorkers to close the gap. I have pointed to Medicaid’s ballooning costs, which contribute to more than half of this deficit, but they have been unwilling to do anything to carefully reduce spending in that program and many others. The Assembly and Senate Majority have only themselves to blame for such a troubling financial position.”

According to the Tax Foundation, New York is the second worst taxed state in the country and second highest spending state on Medicaid in the country. Friend believes that before any taxes are raised an assessment as to the effectiveness and the health-outcomes of the Medicaid system should be performed. The assemblyman pointed to several programs that once ran in Chemung County that were far more cost effective at delivering better healthcare at a lower cost, which was later shut down by the governor.

“I am concerned that the state’s bloated Medicaid program is draining the state of financial resources, all while failing to provide quality healthcare to those who need it. Are people actually healthier? Are the services better and helping people as intended? I am not convinced that the program is working as it should and hardworking Southern Tier families cannot afford the tax increase it would take to close the gap,” said Friend.

Friend pointed to the use of software to help reduce fraud and abuse in healthcare programs such as Medicaid. Chemung County is home to a company which has developed such software. All options to explore methods to reduce waste should be explored.