by Neal Rentz
State Sen. Greg Ball told the Somers Town Board on Oct. 13 he opposed legislation calling for the state to take over the counties’ contributions to the Medicaid program.
Ball made his comments near the conclusion of his presentation to the town board. Over the past several weeks Ball has discussed state issues during meetings of town and village board in his 40th Senate District.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) recently proposed legislation that would have the state pick up the counties’ share of the federal program for the poor. This year, Westchester County is spending $211 million on Medicaid, which represents 12 percent of county spending.
During the town board meeting, Somers Councilman Richard Clinchy asked Ball for his thoughts on the potential state takeover of Medicaid costs. “It’s absolutely irresponsible,” Ball said.
Ball said Medicaid takeover proponents have said counties would be able to reduce properties taxes, but the senator said he did not believe it. “I know damn well that’s not going to happen,” Ball said. He added that while currentWestchester County Executive Rob Astorino would use the Medicaid savings to cut property taxes, there was no assurance that future county executives would follow Astorino’s lead.
The Medicaid takeover legislation was being proposed for political reasons, Ball said, adding the proposal was “fiscally irresponsible.”
When asked by Clinchy if the takeover legislation would become law, Ball said the proposal was not “going anywhere.”
Prior to his comments on the Medicaid takeover proposal, Ball spoke about several state issues. “New York State is number one in all the wrong places,” but during the 2001 legislative session “a lot has been accomplished,” Ball said.
Ball touted the 2 percent property tax cap that was approved this year, the passage of the state budget without tax increases, and $130 million in state mandate relief. But the Legislature needed to go much further in ending unfunded mandates, he said. “The property tax cap is forcing the issue,” Ball said.
Ball said he was confident the $1.5 billion MTA payroll tax would be repealed. “We’re going to see a full repeal or a phased repeal,” he said.
Though the regular legislative session ended earlier this year, Ball said the Legislature needed to return to Albany. “I’m fighting for a special session on job creation,” he said. (ARTICLE)