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WJTN News Headlines for Jan. 22, 2019

Despite a $6.1-billion budget shortfall, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is not proposing any cuts in his 2020-21 budget plan.  

In fact... Cuomo says every part of his 178-billion dollar spending plan will include increases.  That includes the state's Medicaid program... which is projected to have a $2.5-billion shortfall.  Cuomo is proposing to close that through a Medicaid Redesign Team program... as was done in 2011.

Local governments will not have to pick up additional costs to Medicaid... provided that they keep their budgets under the state's Property Tax Cap... and, their Medicaid increases under 3-percent.  If they don't... they would have to pay those added costs.  Cuomo is also proposing another increase to public education funding of 3-percent.  That's another $826-million However... he's also calling on lawmakers to develop a new funding formula that will boost spending for poorer school districts, and reduce funding for wealthier districts.  This past year... Cuomo and the legislature adopted a budget that increase education funding to a record $28-billion.

State Senator George Borrello feels Governor Cuomo's budget plan offered both "hits and misses." 

 Borrello says, though, that New York began the year learning that the state was ranked number-one in population loss the past 10 years and most of those were in the upstate region.  He says "making our state more affordable for both residents and businesses is crucial if we are to reverse this trend."  He says he was encouraged to hear the next phase of the historic middle class tax cuts pushed by Senate Republicans three years ago and, a small business tax cut would also be coming.  Borrello, though, blasted the governor for saying local governments weren't working hard enough to cut Medicaid costs, and, that's part of the reason for a $2.5-billion deficit in the program.  However, the Irving Republican feels reinstituting the Medicaid Redesign Team to look for cost savings was a good idea.

The Jamestown Fire Department says Monday's early morning blaze on the city's northside was started accidentally.  

Fire Battalion Chief Don Mowry says the department's fire investigation team determined that the fire at 614 Spring Street was triggered by the "unintentional use of a torch."  Crews were called to the scene about 6:40 AM and, found much of the building engulfed in flames.  Battalion Chief Roger Sigular says the building was unsafe, and crews had to make an exterior attack on the blaze.  The lone person living there got out safely and, no one was hurt.

The Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services has submitted it's Community Health Assessment and Health Improvement Plans and, both are now available for public review.  

The Department's Epidemiology Manager, Breeanne Agett, says both were submitted to the state Department of Health last month.  She adds their Assessement Plan deals with three priority items: preventing chronic disease, promoting women and children's health, and promoting mental health, and preventing substance abuse.

Agett says the state has changed the Health Improvement Plan to a three-year model from 2019-2021 to include the addressing of health issues with community partners... which include local hospitals, and outside agencies.  She says the state changed the reporting to three-years to align with what the hospitals do to meet the needs cited.  New this year, says Agett, is the state's Prevention Agenda for 2019-2024, which is the blueprint for promoting health equity across populations where there are disparities.  She says the county's 180-page profile can be found on-line at

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown has been nominated for another national distinction.  

The Center has been nominated for "Best New Museum" in this year's USA Today "10 Best Reader's Choice Travel Awards."  Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson says they are one of 20 new museums in the United States nominated for the award by a panel of nationally-recognized travel experts for the USA Today travel award series, which celebrates outstanding destinations, attractions and experiences.  Gunderson says they are asking visitors, fans and supporters to cast their vote for the museum as part of the public voting process to select a winner.  Everyone is invited to vote daily, now through Monday, February 17th at 12 Noon.   The winner will be announced on Friday, February 28th.