ALBANY — In New York state government news, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is once again slamming talk in Washington of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and a woman will lead the Assembly’s budget committee for the first time.
Here’s a look at stories making news:
The governor is once again sounding the alarm about a Republican health care proposal in Washington.
The newest target is legislation by Republican U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The bill would repeal big parts of former President Barack Obama’s health law and put in place block grants for states to design their own health care systems. Supporters say that gives states flexibility, but Cuomo calls it “passing the buck without passing the bucks.”
Cuomo’s office says the measure would cut billions in health care funding for the state each year, rising to as much as $19 billion a year by 2026.
“Depending on who you talk to, the passage of Graham-Cassidy is a very real possibility,” Cuomo said of the bill. “It would be devastating to this state. … I would not trade $19 billion for the flexibility. Because if they cut us $19 billion, if I was as flexible as a Gumby doll, we could not fund our health care system.”
State figures show the Graham-Cassidy bill would jeopardize coverage for 2.7 million New Yorkers, cut funds for Planned Parenthood and allow states to let insurers charge seniors far higher insurance rates.
Republicans and the White House are pushing for a vote before the end of the month.
NEW BUDGET CHAIR
Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein will be the first woman to lead the Assembly’s powerful Ways and Means Committee.
The Brooklyn Democrat will take over as committee chair from Assemblyman Denny Farrell, who retired this year after leading the committee for more than two decades.
Weinstein was first elected to the Legislature in 1980 and now serves as chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee. She has served on the Ways and Means Committee since 1993. She is known as a strong advocate on issues affecting children and women and has sponsored several laws aimed at helping seniors and the victims of domestic violence.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie cited Weinstein’s “extensive” knowledge of the budget when he picked her to lead the critical committee, which oversees the Assembly’s work on the state budget and legislation that impacts spending or taxes in the state.
“I am humbled by the historic opportunity to lend new perspective and solutions to the needs facing our families and communities,” Weinstein said in a statement on her selection. “I have always believed that diversity in leadership is critical to achieving a government that is both inclusive and responsive to today’s challenges.”
The committee’s Senate counterpart, the Senate Finance Committee, is chaired by Sen. Catharine Young, an Olean Republican. She is the first woman to hold that position.