N.Y might spend tobacco money on healthcare--paper
NEW YORK, Nov 23 (Reuters) - New York State's lawmakers are moving toward a consensus that most, if not all, of the state's share of the national $206 billion tobacco settlement should be spent on healthcare, Tuesday's New York Times said.
Earlier this year, Gov. George Pataki had proposed spending about three-quarters of the windfall on reducing the state's debt.
The paper said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) had said a large amount of the funds should go toward building new schools. And Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Rensselaer) proposed using the money to pay for tax breaks.
How much New York State will get each year from the national tobacco settlement will vary, but it should receive around $1 billion a year for a total of $25 billion, the Times said.
Bruno on Monday said his first priority was spending $125 million a year to subsidize drug prescriptions for elderly people with limited incomes. Next, the paper said Bruno would finance healthcare coverage for some of the more than three million people in the state who have no health insurance.
Silver has said all along that he favors using most of the money for healthcare, primarily coverage for the uninsured, and his aides say he has all but abandoned the school construction idea, the paper said.
Pataki declined to say whether he favored spending the settlement money on debt reduction. But antismoking advocates and legislative aides say the governor's office has been working on a package of healthcare uses for the money.