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Cuomo's budget plan considered ambitious

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Albany/HV: Cuomo's budget plan considered ambitious
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Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman takes a closer look at Governor Cuomo's ambitious budget plan unveiled earlier this week in Albany.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "We've gone from a $10 billion deficit to a $2 billion surplus. I don't know if I could have told you that was possible when we started this journey together. Let's give yourselves a round of applause for really a great piece of work," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

However, that surplus Cuomo touted in his budget presentation on Tuesday isn't actually projected for this year. It's coming in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Also, that extra cash comes with some caveats.

First, state spending will have to be limited at a 2 percent increase each year. Meanwhile, Cuomo is counting on a $10 billion waiver for Medicaid spending from the federal government.

"To transform failing hospitals, expand primary care and get the right mix of community based services, the federal government needs to approve the $10 billion federal Medicaid waiver we submitted 18 months ago," said Nirav Shah, Department of Health Commissioner.

Cuomo is trying to get permission from the federal government to redirect savings after he overhauled the Medicaid program and found ways to save money. State officials say the goal is to save failing hospitals.

"If the federal government continues to delay our waiver, hospitals in Brooklyn and statewide will close very soon," said Shah.

However, Cuomo's budget estimates for the future, including that $2 billion surplus, hinge on part on that Medicaid waiver. New York officials say other states have received waivers, but New York has received too much Medicaid money from the federal government for years, and puts approval of the waiver in question.

"To count on the money is, as I said, a little bit squishy, and something that he's going to have to be prepared for if somehow they don't get," noted Larry Levy, Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

New York lawmakers say it's up to federal elected officials to get the waiver.

Senate Republic Leader Dean Skelos said, "I would hope that our federal officials, in particular Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand, that they push the feds to approve the waiver."

On Wednesday, Senator Chuck Schumer said he is working on the issue.

He said, "It's important to the state, and we're working to get that to happen."

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