Economic problems in Erie County will not be solved by regionalism. Our economic problems are due to the excessive costs of a runaway Medicaid program that makes Western New York uncompetitive. The state's annual Medicaid budget is 30 percent higher than that of California, even though California has twice the population. New York spends more than $9,000 per recipient compared with $2,600 in California.
The solution is clear, but difficult to implement. We must replace elected officials who are unwilling to work for cutbacks in Medicaid. Since this is extremely unlikely to happen, we can expect the Western New York economy to continue to decay.
While regionalism is basically a farce, elected officials in the tax sector find it a convenient scapegoat that allows them to avoid the political heat associated with cutbacks in Medicaid.
The market sector does not have this luxury -- businesses do not survive if needed cutbacks and changes are not made. How much longer will Western New York survive if our population continues to decline and our young people must leave the area to find decent jobs?
MICHAEL F. PATTERSON