SENATOR YOUNG ANNOUNCES BILL TO REFORM MEDICAID PAYMENTS
Senator Cathy Young is announcing an effort in the state Senate to stop the burden of local Medicaid payments. Yesterday, Young released a statement saying she has signed on as a co-sponsoring to legislation that would require the State to gradually take over Medicaid costs from the counties, an initiative that could save property taxpayers in Chautauqua County millions of dollars each year. The bill would immediately freeze the rate local governments pay for Medicaid, effective January 1, 2012. On October 1, 2012, counties’ contributions would be decreased by five percent, with local contributions annually reduced until the state entirely funds Medicaid services by 2019. The state Assembly has a matching version of the bill which Assemblyman Andrew Goodell (R,C-Chautauqua) is strongly supporting.
The announcement came just one day after County Executive Greg Edwards presented his 2012 budget. During the presentation, Edwards asked the County Legislature to consider withholding weekly Medicaid Payments to the state until lawmakers in Albany allow the county to increase its sales tax rate to 8 percent. Edwards says a sales tax rate is likely the only viable solution to help offset the 12.6 percent property tax hike he has proposed in his 2012 budget.
KINDBERG SAYS OTHER BUDGET OPTIONS SHOULD BE PURSUED
And County Lawmakers will begin budget deliberations next week in Mayville. Long-time Jamestown legislator Maria Kindberg (D-District 15) says it’s going to be an extremely difficult process. And while she agrees state mandates are severely hurting local taxpayers, she doesn’t believe that increasing the sales tax to offset a property tax hike is the best solution. Instead, Kindberg says she’d rather see county lawmakers explore other options.
Kindberg – who is not seeking another term in office this November – adds that even though she will be leaving the legislature at the end of this year, she is still planning to put a lot of effort into finding a solution to the budget crisis.
COUNTY CLERK CRITICIZES STATE DMV
MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Clerk Sandy Sopak is railing against the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles for a new program that she says will make the roads less safe while also taking money away from local governments. The DMV announced this week that it will allow drivers to renew their driver’s license online by removing the eye exam requirement. Instead, drivers will have the option to self-certify their vision is 20/40 or better when they renew.
Sopak says the new policy, along with other initiatives, could lead to a shut down of some DMV offices in local communities throughout the state. She is calling on county residents to contact their representatives in Albany and speak out against the new program.
HIGGINS ANNOUNCES $954,000 GRANT FOR COI
WASHINGTON – Congressman Brian Higgins is announcing that Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. has been awarded nearly one million dollars in grant funding to help continue its services into 2012. The congressman says COI will receive a total of $954,759 in three grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The largest award, totaling $618,031 will go to COI for the Chautauqua Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Program. The project will target low-income fathers and expectant fathers ages 16-45 and their families.
COI will also receive $185,000 in federal funding for the Safe House of Chautauqua County Program and $151,728 for the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Street Outreach Program.
YOUNG TO COMMEMORATE WINERY’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY
Senator Cathy Young will be in Westfield later today to help celebrate a major milestone for a local winery. The Johnson Estate Winery is celebrating its 100th Anniverssary this weekend. It is the oldest family-owned estate winery in New York. Senator Young will be on hand to help celebrate and also present the Johnson family with a resolution to commemorate the occasion
10,000 MANIACS CONCERT IS THIS WEEKEND
10,000 Maniacs will take center state this weekend at Jamestown Community College. As part of the band’s 30th anniversary, two concerts will take place in JCC’s Scharmann Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday Oct. 2. The Saturday night show is already sold out, but tickets are still available for the Sunday show, which begins at 2 p.m.
And later today, our own Dennis Drew will interview 10,000 Maniacs guitarist Jeff Erickson during WRFA’s Arts on Fire program. In addition, we’ll feature an interview with Vanessa Weinert, who is spearheading the Salvation Army Anew Center’s Arts of the Anew art exhibit in Jamestown, beginning Oct. 14. The project is being held to help raise awareness about domestic violence and assault in Chautauqua County.
Arts on Fire begins at 1 p.m. this Afternoon.