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By Jimmy Vielkind for Capital
ALBANY—Bill Samuels, a progressive activist and onetime Democratic fund-raiser who is hoping for a left-flank challenger to Governor Andrew Cuomo, met Thursday morning with Syracuse’s Democratic mayor, Stephanie Miner.
The meeting came during an upstate tour that Samuels and his nonprofit group, EffectiveNY, have organized to urge policymakers to take over the share of the Medicaid program paid by counties.
As mayor, Miner has been critical of Cuomo’s policies toward cash-strapped cities like hers, and according to her spokesman was happy to swap ideas with Samuels.
They did not discuss the possibility of a Miner challenge to Cuomo, her spokesman said. Samuels, though, offered some unsolicited praise for another of Cuomo’s most prominent critics.
“Syracuse has an incredible mayor. I am absolutely impressed with her, and I think she’s a future statewide leader. She’s that good,” Samuels said by phone. “Most of our meeting was about taking apart what [Onondaga County Executive Joanie] Mahoney and Andrew [Cuomo] are doing on property taxes, and speaking in depth about how if you unwind the Medicaid program from the counties over eight years, you can make the levy go down 80 percent.”
Mahoney, a Republican, endorsed Cuomo in 2010 and appeared beside him on Tuesday during a rally about his property tax rebate plan.
New York is the only state where counties pay for a portion of the Medicaid program, which is a partnership between the state and federal governments. County leaders have long complained that this state mandate is responsible for the growth of their property tax levies, and Cuomo, a Democrat, has frozen their share and centralized Medicaid administration since taking office.