By LIZ SKOCZYLAS
OBSERVER Mayville Bureau
State lawmakers are making it clear that when it comes to budget cuts, they are unwilling to compromise on health programs .
During his budget proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed reducing the state's 89 public health programs into six funding categories.
Programs within each category would then compete for funding, instead of applying for grants, as is the current practice.
As a result of this plan, the governor said $40 million would be saved from the roughly $400 million the state currently spends on health programs.
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said that the governor's plan is not one she and many others plan to support.
"The Senate is very committed to ensuring that vital health-related programs are protected and continued, so our budget negotiating position is to reject the governor's proposal to consolidate 89 public health programs into six competitive pools," she said. "We also are working hard to restore $40 million from the Executive Budget's proposed across-the-board 10 percent funding reduction."
According to Young, many of the cuts would affect women's health and wellness programs, including initiatives that help women overcome rape, eating disorders and breast cancer. Additionally, she said prenatal care would be harmed under the governor's plan.
"Reductions would do irreparable damage to many of these programs, and women would suffer as a result," she said. "We in the Senate are determined to save these services that have impacted women's lives in such a positive and profound way."
Young also serves on the Health Conference Committee, which is negotiating the health portion of the final budget. She said the committee is also working to restore Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Centers, Water Supply Protection, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, Diabetes Programs and Senior Citizen Nutrition Programs, among many others.
"I will continue to push for a positive result. This issue is one that must be solved," she said.