Local Lawmakers Hopeful About Cuomo's Plan

January 6, 2011 Updated Jan 6, 2011 at 12:40 AM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

...
January 6, 2011 Updated Jan 6, 2011 at 12:40 AM EDT


WKBW
Buffalo, NY

There were many "firsts" in governor Andrew Cuomo's state of the state address. The first time members of the public were invited to attend and the first time the internet was used to broadcast the speech, where cuomo promised to regain the public's trust.

"It is time to pass ethics reform and it is time to pass ethics reform now," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Possibly the most ambitious part of Cuomo's plan is appointing a Medicaid redesign team to come up with ways to completely overhaul the Medicaid system. Executives at People Inc. gathered to watch the speech. The organization provides services to medicaid patients with developmental disabilities. They are anxiously awaiting the release of the state budget in February.

"Obviously we want to make sure that the services get to the people that need them," said Kevin Horrigan, Director of Public Affairs for People Inc.

Cuomo also proposed setting up regional councils across the state to come up with creative job creation plans. The councils would compete against each other for a share of $200 million dollars towards job creation in their area.

"I think buffalo and western new york is very well positioned to be successful in that kind of competitive process," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

"Consolidating agencies, cost effective ways to help tax payers get more by paying less," said New York State Senator Tim Kennedy of the 58th district.

One issue Erie County Executive Chris Collins wanted to hear more about is the governor's plans on the state's pension system for public employees. It is currently funded by taxpayers at a cost the state can't sustain. Collins is hoping for a new plan where employees, not taxpayers, would contribute to their own pension plan.

"When I look at the budget problems Erie county faced this past couple of months it all related back to pensions and had we not had the 40 percent increase in pension costs, I would not have been forced into some of the tough cuts we made," said Collins.

Nonetheless, law makers are pledging to get to work immediately on the governor's new reforms. And the governor is working fast, he has ordered the Medicaid redesign team to issue their first report by March 1st.