March 30, 2017
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Endorses 'Empire State Equity Act' to Reduce New Yorkers' Property Taxes by Increasing Federal Medicaid Support

TOP Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo...

Governor Cuomo Pledges To Cover Medicaid Spending For Any County Willing To Contribute 100% Of Savings To Property Tax Relief

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today endorsed the "Empire State Equity Act," federal legislation that would deliver property tax relief to New Yorkers by increasing federal funding for New York's Medicaid program. New York is a "donor state" that contributes as much as $30 billion more to the federal budget in taxes than it receives back in services.

This bill will help level the playing field and provide New York with an additional $2.3 billion in Medicaid funds, which the state will use to eliminate the local share of Medicaid for any county that agrees to lower local property taxes by an equal amount, thereby passing 100 percent of their savings to their taxpayers. More information is available here.

The Governor held a conference call on the “Empire State Equity Act” with members of New York’s Congressional Delegation earlier today.

AUDIO of that call is available here.

A rush transcript of the call is available below:

Melissa DeRosa: I’m Melissa DeRosa from Governor Cuomo’s office, thank you very much for joining our call today. We’re joined by Congressman Engel, Congressman Tonko, Congressman Suozzi, and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney to discuss the Medicaid issues that are going on in Washington. We’re also joined by the Governor’s Budget Director Rob Mujica, the Medicaid for the state Jason Helgerson. With that, I’m going to turn it over to Congressman Engel.

Congressman Eliot Engel: Thanks very much. I’m Eliot Engel. I represent the 16th district of New York, which is Westchester County and Bronx County. Let me say that this legislation is desperately needed because as everyone knows last week we were faced with an irresponsible proposal from congressional republicans that would have left a huge hole in New York’s budget under the guise of providing so called financial relief to New Yorkers. We looked at it, we didn’t like it because in reality we realize that this proposal would have robbed roughly $2 billion from our constituents and restricted our state’s ability to run its Medicaid program. To deal with this draconian cut, the state would have been forced to raise taxes, cut Medicaid benefits, limit Medicaid eligibility and lower provider rates.
 
That plan was shortsighted and ultimately would have harmed every New Yorker, including those it purported to protect. But this bill, which we call the Empire State Equity Act does – let me first say, thankfully Trumpcare failed last week on the Energy and Commerce committee, we had fought it, we had to vote on it before it was even scored by the congressional budget office. It was really a farce, it was ridiculous. So my colleagues and I are not going to risk this happening again. That’s why we’re introducing the Empire State Equity Act to ensure that should New York be faced with a budget hit like this again, our citizens will be made whole. The Empire State Equity Act increases general Medicaid funding by $2.3 billion, or four percent. Medicaid is obviously a lifeline for the people of New York. As their representatives we’re going to make sure they aren’t harmed by misguided republican policies like the one we saw last week.
 
New York’s always been a donor state. We always give more than we get back. In terms of Medicaid, that’s certainly true. That’s why my colleagues and I have joined together in putting forth this legislation. I want to personally thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership in this regard. Now I turn this over to my colleague Paul Tonko who is also like me on the Energy and Commerce committee and on the Health subcommittee.
 
Congressman Paul Tonko: Thank you Eliot. It’s Paul Tonko. I represent New York’s 20th Congressional district, that’s the greater Capital Region and Mohawk Valley. And first let me thank the Governor for the opportunity to work with the state of New York to do what’s fair here. New York’s Capital Region I can clearly state is home to many seniors, that some measure, almost near 20 percent – 18 plus percent in one of my given counties. And how our seniors depend on Medicaid – it helps them cover the cost of their long term care and nursing home support.
 
Little known fact, many times they go on Medicare and then become eligible on Medicaid. Having witnessed this personally with the long term care issue requires a lot of Medicaid expenditure and we’re indeed sensitive to that. Unfortunately, New York has a long history of being overlooked and underserved when it comes to federal Medicaid funding and bringing a fair share of our federal tax money back home to New York would help our counties certainly and our taxpayers. So this legislation restores equity to that budget equation, and beyond that I think it expresses the values of the people that I represent, to be able to have a dignified approach to meet their healthcare needs, and it also serves the public good. With that, I believe I’ll introduce our Governor, who is ready to speak?
 
Governor Cuomo: I’m always ready when you say I’m ready, Congressmen Tonko.
 
Congressman Paul Tonko: Okay, Governor.
 
Governor Cuomo: First, it’s a pleasure to be with Congressman Tonko and Congressman Eliot Engel. They’re both friends of mine for many, many years. They were former state colleagues who were both great Assemblymen who served in Albany. They then moved on to Washington, left me behind but that’s okay. They’re doing great, great work, and I’m really excited about this proposal and what they’re talking about. I understand we also have Congressman Suozzi and Congressman Maloney, who are also going to be on the phone and speaking, and I want to thank them very much for their help.
 
Look, I’m excited because this is a bill that can actually get things done. Washington has seen a lot false starts, but I think this could put it back on the right track. Because this is about fairness. It’s about fundamental fairness and it’s about fulfilling promises that have been made. It’s fundamentally fair because New York is a donor state. Now what that means is we give about $30 billion to Washington that we never see again. We are the most disproportionately generous state, number one or number two in the nation, depending on whose number you use. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, God rest his soul, used to talk about the unfairness that New York gave so much and got back so little. Second, the promises made, from Congressman Ryan to President Trump to Mr. Faso to Mr. Collins was tax relief for the working men and women of this country. Right? That’s what they all ran on. That’s what they all promised. That’s what they all said. Well this actually does just that. This says, let’s give New York additional Medicaid money because they are a donor state, let’s reduce the inequity and New York will then give the money to the taxpayers in property tax relief.
 
Property tax in this state is the crusher. Property tax is two-thirds of the state tax. So if you can give property tax relief, that goes directly to the hard working men and women that everybody says they want to help. Now Faso/Collins passed an amendment that suggested it did this, but it was actually fraud. And it was part of an entire fraudulent scheme that the American people caught onto. Faso/Collins said in an amendment, well they will disallow the counties Medicaid costs, so the counties will no longer have to pay for Medicaid, and the burden will shift to the state. Oh, well thank you very much—for absolutely nothing. So what you were saying was, maybe the county would reduce your property taxes, although by the way the bill doesn’t say they have to, but maybe the county would reduce your property taxes, but now the State of New York is going to have to increase your income taxes.
 
So we’re going to take one pocket and we’re going to put it in the other pocket. Thank you very much. It was a scam. This bill is actually the reality of the sham Faso and Collins they’re trying to perpetrate on the people of this state. This says, “New York is a donor state. This offers counties Medicaid relief. The counties will then reduce their property taxes all across the state. It will make a dramatic, dramatic difference and for a federal government that frankly looks like it has been targeting New York like we have a bull’s eye on us. They’re threatening everything from the state and local tax deductibility. The skinny federal budget has over $1 billion in cuts to New York State, over $1 billion. The Faso-Collins would have cost us $2.3 billion. The American Healthcare would have wrecked us. So this is something that finally says there’s fairness and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m trying to do the state budget right now. The budget’s due in a couple of days. We’ve agreed to all sorts of controversial policy positions. My problem is, how do you do a budget when you don’t know what the federal government is going to do to you when the federal budget is released on May 21. So if you don’t know the amount of pain that you’re going to endure, it’s very hard to do a budget, and in that light, this would at least finally be a positive step forward. And if they want to get anything done in Washington, my two cents, I was there for eight years under the Clinton Administration, bills that have some Americans as big winners and other Americans as big losers, they fail and they should. Bills that try to polarize this country fail and they should. Coalitions win, and this is a smart, intelligent, fair bill that can get together a coalition. So again Congressman Engel, God bless you, it’s a great piece of work. Congressman Tonko, thank you so much. Thank you for the help you’ve been to me on this, and Congressman Maloney and Congressman Suozzi. It’s a pleasure to work with you on this.
 
Congressman Paul Tonko: Thank you Governor and I think the point you made is really right on point. It’s really the Trumpcare legislation is really a phony legislation, it’s a shell game, it’s robbing Peter to pay Paul and wouldn’t have benefitted New York the way our bill does now.
 
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney: Governor, it’s Sean if I could just say one point, I think you’re so right to point out that it’s a fraud. I think that we can call it the Faso fraud and it gets an F because it also is a fig leaf for good programs, cuts to, it would destroy Planned Parenthood Trumpcare. It would destroy so many other things. It would undermine Medicare. And so it’s a fig leaf in addition to the fraud and we are so proud to be part of something that is real, that will give real property tax relief to people and that will require the counties to lower that burden because that is a big deal in my part of the world and for so many people and you of course have been the leader on this by putting in the property tax cap, and so many other taxes. You have taken – and I think it’s fair to say – you have done everything you can do as a Governor at the state level to reduce property taxes and the action now is at the county level. This Faso fraud was never going to work and this proposal can. So, thank you for working with us on this. We think it could make a big difference.
 
Congressman Tom Suozzi: Governor, this is Tom Suozzi. I just want to echo what Sean was saying. I want to thank Congressman Engel and Congressman Tonko for their leadership on this issue. And if there’s one person who understands property tax issues in New York State, it’s Andrew Cuomo. And he has done a great job not only at the property tax cap, but also keeping the Medicaid tax in place. He gets this issue, and together between Engel and Tonko and the Governor, they’ve really come up with a good plan here.
 
Congressman Paul Tonko: Yes, I think it needs to be underscored that the biggest power play of Medicaid funding in New York goes toward our seniors. So, we don’t want that population to be hurt.

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