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April 15, 2014

How competitive is NY? (cont’d…)

E.J. McMahon

New York State’s relative economic performance wasn’t so hot in the recent past — but its outlook for the future is worse, according to the just-released 7th Annual Rich States, Poor States report, an economic competitiveness index produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The report—co-authored by noted supply-side economist Arthur Laffer Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams—ranks states in two ways.


Filed under: Economy, Taxes, Uncategorized

April 14, 2014

For whom the income tax tolls

E.J. McMahon

By midnight on April 15, more than 8.5 million personal income tax returns for 2013 will have been filed with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Roughly one-third of those filers will owe nothing, and big chunk of total PIT receipts will come from a tiny fraction of high-income taxpayers.

The highest-earning 1 percent of New York PIT payers are expected to have total tax liability of $16.2 billion, or 42.3 percent of total tax liability for 2013, according to estimates in the Economic and Revenue Outlook volume of the 2014-15 Executive Budget (see p. 175). The income of the top 1 percent begins at $838,572, the Division of the Budget (DOB) estimates.

Note: At least one commenter on this blog asked what share of income is earned by the top 1 percent.  Good question! Unfortunately, the budget does not contain that statistic for 2013. But other data consistently have indicated that the share of income reported by the top 1 percent is less than its share of New York state income tax liability. For example, a separate stable in the budget projects that, in 2014, filers with incomes above $1 million will pay 41.3 percent of the PIT while reporting 26.2 percent of adjusted gross income.


Filed under: Taxes, Uncategorized

April 11, 2014

How competitive is New York?

E.J. McMahon

New York perennially lands at or near the bottom of state rankings based heavily on measures of government spending, taxes and regulatory burdens. However, taking account of other factors that play more to New York’s strengths, the Empire State’s ranking soared to 26th in the 13th Annual State Competitiveness Report, just issued by the Beacon Hill Institute of Boston, Ma.

The BHI’s index is derived from rankings on eight sub-indexes designed to represent factors considered important to promoting economic growth. Within those sub-indexes, the Empire State’s lowest rankings were 45th in Government & Fiscal Policy, which includes taxes and spending, and 50th in Infrastructure, which includes measures of housing affordability and energy costs as well as commuting times.


Filed under: Economy, Uncategorized

April 8, 2014

Touching the bases on the budget

E.J. McMahon

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling New York’s newly enacted budget a “Grand Slam.” But while the fiscal 2014-15 spending plan enacted last week certainly can’t be written off as the worst swing and miss ever, it’s far from a base-clearing, walk-off home run.

Prolonging the metaphorical torture, here are some budget scoring notes from a taxpayers’ perspective.


Filed under: Budgets, Uncategorized

March 27, 2014

Broken record for upstate economy

E.J. McMahon

Year-over-year private job gains since 2/13; dark shading means job loss or no growth. NYSDOL map

Another month has brought another poor jobs growth report for upstate New York.

Today’s Labor Department release shows statewide private employment in February was up 1.6 percent over the same month a year earlier, trailing the national rate of 1.9 percent — a slightly smaller margin than in previous months. However, fully three quarters of the statewide job gain came in New York City, where private employment was up 88,700, or 2.6 percent. Another 17,300 jobs (15 percent of the statewide gain) were added on Long Island, boosted to at least some extent by the post-Sandy storm recovery. Continuing a recent trend, Putnam-Rockland-Westchester trailed the rest of downstate, adding 1,900 jobs for a 0.4 percent year-over-year growth rate.

In the 50-county upstate region (north of Dutchess and Orange), the reported year-over-year private job growth equated to a minuscule 0.33 percent, or 8,100 jobs.


Filed under: Economy, Uncategorized

March 20, 2014

Hey, Assembly, what gives?

Tim Hoefer

Over at SeeThroughNY, our team works really hard to post fresh data quickly and accurately — when it’s available, that is.

Today, we updated legislative expenditures for the state Senate, but not for the Assembly, which hasn’t posted its data yet.

A week ago, the Assembly Majority assured us the data would be online in the “very near future.” The Senate made its data available back in late February. (more…)

March 18, 2014

Cuomo’s “too many local governments” fallacy

E.J. McMahon

Committed to an inflated number?

“Why are property taxes so high? Because we have 10,500 local governments,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday, repeating (yet again) his favorite mantra. Cuomo clearly wants to imply that he’s referring to 10,500 autonomous entities, falling over one another in a virtual orgy of bureaucratic excess.

“Every morning you wake up and you’re turning on 10,500 light switches, you’re starting 10,500 fleets of cars, you’re paying 10,500 insurance policies,” he has said.

But it’s just not true. Not even close.

By a commonly accepted national standard, New York doesn’t have 10,500 local governments–much less 10,500 local government light switches, auto fleets or insurance policies. The true number of local governments with any level of taxing authority is about one-third as large as the governor would have you believe.

Notwithstanding Cuomo’s claim, the data indicate that New York’s exceptionally high property taxes are not driven primarily by the number of local governments.


Filed under: Local governments, Uncategorized

March 10, 2014

Move over Jimmy Fallon…

Dave Lombardo

As if $420 million in annual handouts to the film and television industries wasn’t enough, New York State legislators are now proposing to give millions to the music industry and Broadway.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, D-Brooklyn, introduced legislation creating a music credit that would reimburse 20 percent of production expenses, including artists’ royalties, session fees, music videos and marketing, and would cost New York up to $60 million a year. Theater fans are getting some love from Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, who crafted a $5 million credit for 30 percent of a show’s production costs in an attempt to attract touring theater companies to upstate locations. 


March 6, 2014

NY trails again in new job creation data

E.J. McMahon

New York State added private jobs at a slower pace than the nation as a whole during the 12-month period ending in January, according to data released today by the state Labor Department.

Year-to-year private job growth map from the state Labor Department

Statewide private employment as of January was up 1.7 percent from a year earlier, compared to 2.1 percent nationally.

Thanks to yet another month of strong job growth in New York City, private employment in the downstate region grew at a faster-than-average 2.5 percent clip. However, the 52 counties categorized as “upstate” by the Labor Department (including Dutchess and Orange, although they are within the downstate Metropolitan Commuter District) created jobs at a much more sluggish pace of just 0.5 percent.

The map at right illustrates a familiar pattern of growth and non-growth by county, with the darkest shadings indicating little or no increase in private-sector employment. The key table from the Labor Department press release is at the end of this post.

The regional variance in job growth continues a multi-year trend.


Filed under: Economy, Employment, Uncategorized

Suffolk police are doing OK

Tim Hoefer

Despite the not-rosy fiscal status of the county, the Suffolk County Legislature approved the last outstanding contract for county police officers. (In January, Moody’s listed Suffolk County among the municipal bond issuers facing a credit rating downgrade.)

The newly minted contract with the Superior Officers Association will cost taxpayers $55.4 million through 2018. The three police union contracts negotiated by County Executive Steve Bellone since 2012 will come to $372 million — equivalent to about 18 percent of the county’s own-source revenues at the start of the contract period.


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