Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Required Reading for a New York Mindset

In most communities, there are some groups who are agitating --- more importantly, just by raising your voice. I'm always surprised when I hear legislators say they get 15 or 20 calls on an issue and that's a lot. It doesn't take that many citizens who are outspoken and in contact with their legislators to make a difference. I'd say: pay attention; be informed about what's going on. And if you don't like it, then give your elected representatives an earful. That's what they're there for.

The above is taken from an interview Krestia Degorge did with Gannett News Service's Albany bureau chief, Jay Gallagher. The interview ran in last weeks City paper and can be read following this link. Gallagher has just released a book, "The Politics of Decline", which examines the dysfunction of The Empire State and things that can be done to turn things around.

I've already ordered my copy.

There is a lack of focus on upstate from leaders and policy makers. AG Spitzer just announced a downstater as his running-mate in yet another snub to the interests of our area. The increasing chasm between the economy of a world-class metropolitan area and the milder and volatile rust belt characteristics of upstate becomes more and more difficult to negotiate every year. This regional problem transcends political party, because neither group seems incredibly willing to stand up and make the necessary changes to the financial barriers of this state. As long as downstate hums along, it doesn't faze any of the leaders in Albany that the cost of doing business in this state is astronomical and the tax rate is oppressive.

Are they aware that not all of us can commute to Manhattan to work?

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Medicaid Petition on the Monroe County Website

Those that have followed this blog for a while are aware of how concerned I am of New York State's burdensome Medicaid costs. I believe that the cost of this system, bared both by the state and the counties, is one of the reasons New York taxes are so outrageous, which leads to a high cost of doing business in this state. Oh, there are other factors there too, and they should be addressed. But, as I've stated before in other blog entries, Medicaid is so far out of alignment with where it should be, it's the obvious first place to start.

So I'm researching a post concerning Governor Pataki's budget, the Governor's race, and County Executive Brook's secret plan to plug the budget gap which is due in 90 days. My focus is on how Medicaid costs play into all this. While surfing around, I find a petition on the County Website concerning Medicaid reform.

One point shall now be awarded to Ms. Brooks. Bravo.

It's pretty simple. It briefly touches on things that you could read about in the aforementioned links above and then offers this:

There are solutions to the challenges presented by Medicaid, but there must be the political will in Albany to debate and enact such solutions. The New York Association of Counties, and others, have presented options they believe can lead us out of this crisis.

I believe that the following options are all worthy of consideration and enactment:

1. Capping counties share of Medicaid costs at 2001 Levels, alleviating county taxpayers from the responsibility of the program’s rapidly escalating costs.

2. Giving New York State the revenue from one percent of the sales tax currently levied by counties in return for eliminating counties’ Medicaid responsibilities.

3. Complete funding of Medicaid by the State immediately removing the burden for the program from counties. 48 states do not mandate that their counties pay for a significant portion of Medicaid. Only New York and North Carolina place such a burden on their counties.

It's never easy to make these kinds of changes, and I doubt that the solutions will be very easy either. However, I feel it is incumbent on us all to remain active and continue to push against the line that says we are powerless to change things.

Voicing our displeasure through any possible means will be the only way we get policy makers in Albany to understand that spending is too high and taxes are too high.

I encourage you all to go to the petition link and sign it.