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The Empire

Cuomo on reducing Medicaid, closing prisons

Cuomo's budget presentation is pretty consistent with what he's been saying all along: no new taxes, no borrowing, and across-the-board cuts.

But there are parts of the budget that assume cooperation among some well-entrenched interests.

Medicaid. The budget relies on the Medicaid Redesign Team "will identify initiates to reduce state Medicaid spending by $2.85 billion for 2011-12 and by $4.6 billion in 2012-13." They'll find these savings by "modifying program requirements and limiting spending growth."

The Medicaid Redesign Team - which includes legislators and members from the health care industry and unions representing health care workers - has not yet announced their recommendations. That'll come on March 1.

Prison Consolidation. To close prisons, Cuomo is offering up to $100 million to those communities to wean them off those institutions as a form of economic development. (The New York Times earlier said Cuomo wouldn't press this issue in his budget presentation.)

While closing prisons is unpopular with local lawmakers who rely on those facilities to employ constituents, the $100 million carrot should be enticing.

And, if not, there's always the stick.

Cuomo will create  a "task force by Executive Order" to make recommendations. If the recommendations are rejected by the legislature, the commissioner of Correctional Services (which is appointed by the governor) "would be empowered to implement facility closures."

"Communities affected by the closures wold receive assistance" from the governor's new Regional Economic Development Councils, with "$100 million available to help communities end their reliance on incarceration as a major source of employment."