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Two Republican board members call on legislators to protect tax payers

JOHNSTOWN — Two Republican members of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors were in Albany Wednesday, calling on state legislators to protect local taxpayers and keep the Medicaid cap.

Board Chairman Warren Greene of Gloversville’s 6th Ward and Johnstown Town Supervisor Jack Wilson, the 2019 board chairman, met with state legislators.

According to a news release issued by county Administrative Officer Jon Stead, the two Fulton County supervisors voiced their “strong objections” to changes to the state’s Medicaid program proposed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Greene and Wilson joined representatives from county governments across New York state to “call out the bad policy proposal that will dramatically increase property taxes,” the release said.

New York state is one of a few states that requires county funds be used to cover the cost of Medicaid. New York’s mandate that counties pay half of the state’s share is an expensive burden on property taxpayers, the release said. New York state counties and New York City fund $7.6 billion of the state’s more than $70 billion Medicaid program.

To help counties and local governments adhere to the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap, Cuomo and state legislators in 2012 enacted a “zero growth” Medicaid cap that helped counties stabilize property taxes. The release said Cuomo is now going back on that pledge and blaming counties for his administration’s spending increases and looming budget deficits.

The release indicated Greene said he and Wilson took a “clear message” to Albany.

“Our local taxpayers can’t shoulder additional property tax increases or cuts to services because of the state’s bad spending habits,” Greene said. “The Medicaid cap must be maintained.”

Wilson claimed the governor’s plan will hurt local services if enacted.

“If state lawmakers buy into this scheme, they will be endangering things like veterans services, road and bridge repair, youth programs, Meals on Wheels, economic development, and others,” Wilson said in the release. “We spoke with Sen. [James] Tedisco and Assemblyman [Robert] Smullen and they are on our side, which is the taxpayers’ side.”

Greene added, “The governor should just be honest about his Medicaid spending and not look for property tax increases to pay for it. I hope citizens across the state demand that their state officials abandon the changes being considered.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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