Officials call on Legislature to reject $1.5B ‘grab’

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County government is calling on the state Legislature to reject what it says is the state’s $1.5 billion “grab” from local taxpayers.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead on Wednesday issued a news release noting increased spending by state leaders has resulted in a $7 billion state budget deficit. The release says Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to shift much of that shortfall “on to the backs of local property taxpayers.”

The release said Fulton County officials are speaking out against one of the governor’s 2021 Executive Budget proposals that will divert federal money intended for local tax relief into state coffers.

“One of the governor’s proposals would intercept Enhanced Federal Medicaid — eFMAP — funding worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year to counties and keep them for state revenues,” the release says. “The eFMAP provision was enacted by Congress within the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to help all lower governments pay for the expansion of Medicaid. If diverted by state representatives during this year’s state budget process, $1.5 billion in costs will be shifted to county property taxpayers across New York state.”

Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Warren Greene stated in the release: “This proposal by the governor shows his indifference to the plight of upstate taxpayers. If he diverts this federal aid to cover his state budget problems, local property taxes will have to go up. He just can’t control his appetite for spending.”

Stead added: “The Executive Budget contained several proposals that will hurt county finances. If enacted into law, these kind of maneuvers ultimately lead to cuts in local services.”

Fulton County property taxpayers pay for $13.7 million in Medicaid spending each year. That means 45 percent of every person’s property tax bill goes to pay just one bill, the state’s Medicaid mandate, the release said.

By Josh Bovee

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