Utica, NY (WIBX) - After meeting Governor Andrew Cuomo's property tax cap, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, flanked by state and local officials, presented the county's first major step in dealing with its most significant unfunded mandate--Medicaid. The officials are calling for a gradual state takeover of the full cost of Medicaid through the passage of Senate bill 5889 sponsored by State Senators Roy McDonald, (R-Saratoga) and Patrick Gallivan, (R-Erie).

Picente says, if passed, the bill would in time shift the burden of Medicaid Off of county property taxpayers. "And that means better services for the residents and reduced property taxes." He goes on to say, "We were able to sustain the 2-percent cap this year and there are commitments that were made in terms of this property tax cap earlier this year that said, 'cap first, relief later'...now is the later," he said. Officials say the bill provides an 8 year gradual state takeover, and takes advantage of savings from the Medicaid spending cap provision enacted in this year's state budget. Also, the measure is aligned to coincide with the federal Affordable Care Act set to go into affect in 2014.

Stephen Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties says the measure provides a short and long term solution and added that there is funding available to back it. "The Medicaid Redesign Team has identified over $2 billion dollars of state savings that has just been accomplished through its efforts in 2011, in addition the state has capped the amount of money that it will spend in Medicaid so there are resources that will be available should Albany decide that it wants to begin this process of removing local tax payers from financing this federal program," he said. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, (D-Westchester) has sponsored a companion bill in the Assembly.