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May 17, 2013
Financial disclosure filings made public yesterday have revealed that Governor Andrew Cuomo has a net worth of at least $1.75 million. But in one sense, that doesn’t actually make him unusual among New York government employees at his level of education and experience.
Imagine an alternative career history for the governor, in which Cuomo decided not to pursue a career in law and politics. Instead, after graduating from Fordham in 1979, he went straight to work as a public school teacher in, let’s say, the city of Yonkers. Today, after 34 years in the classroom, he’d be a Tier 3 retirement system member making a salary of $118,709.* And, having turned 55, he’d be eligible to immediately retire with a pension of $78,384, which has a net present value equivalent of nearly $1.6 million — i.e., it would cost a man Cuomo’s age $1.6 million to purchase an annuity worth $78,384 a year for the rest of his life.**
May 16, 2013
The latest economic data for New York continues to relate a tale of two states. Private sector employment growth in New York as a whole slightly trailed the national average on a year-to-year basis, but was much stronger in the New York City metropolitan area. The 52-county upstate region grew at just half the national rate from April 2012 to April 2013, according to today’s monthly jobs release from the state Labor Department.
12-month job change. Darker shading=less growth
The state added 137,000 jobs, a gain of 1.9 percent during a period when the nation was growing 2 percent. Fifty-seven percent of the net new private jobs were created in New York City, which grew at a rate of 2.5 percent. The strongest job growth (2.9 percent) was in Nassau-Suffolk–which may, in part, reflect ongoing reconstruction and recovery from Superstorm Sandy. The fastest-growing private-sector job category (up 43,100) was educational and health services, which also heavily dependent on federal, state and local government subsidies. The next fastest-growing, business and professional services, has been strongest in New York City in recent years.
May 14, 2013
CEOs apparently aren't buying it.
Maybe the nation’s CEOs don’t watch enough TV, or perhaps they lack a sufficient appreciation for Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Whatever the reason, respondents to Chief Executive magazine’s ninth annual survey of ”Best and Worst States for Business“ ranked New York among the worst at 49th, unchanged from last year. Other bottom-dwellers included California (#50), Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut. The top-rated states: Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.
April 24, 2013
New York’s rate of growth in withholding tax receipts during the final quarter of 2012 was among the lowest for any state with an income tax, according to the latest quarterly State Revenue Report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government. ***See Update at bottom of post.***
Withholding taxes are driven mainly by changes in employment and wages and thus serve as an indicator of economic growth. The Rockefeller Institute’s report says New York’s withholding receipts grew by 3.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013. That was less than half the national average of 7.8 percent, and also below the five-state Mid-Atlantic regional average of 4 percent. Only six of the 41 states with income taxes had lower withholding growth during the same period. (According to the same Rockefeller Institute report, New York’s employment growth in 2012 was also below average.)
One important caveat: on a year-over-year basis, New York’s personal income tax receipts in 2012 were reduced in part due to the Dec. 31, 2011, sunset of a portion of the “millionaires tax” that applied to incomes as low as $200,000. The extended tax applies only to incomes above $1 million for individuals and $2 million for couples. ***See added note at bottom of post.***
April 18, 2013
Dark = not so hot
Private employment in New York State grew by just 1.3 percent in March on a year-over-year basis, compared to the nation’s 1.9 percent growth during the same period, according to today’s employment report from the state Labor Department.
Continuing a longer-term trend, virtually all the job growth has occurred downstate, concentrated in New York City and Long Island, which grew by 1.8 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. However, private employment in the Westchester-Rockland-Putnam region of the lower Hudson Valley has grown by just 0.5 percent since March 2012.
Upstate’s growth over the past year is also just 0.5 percent. The Elmira, Binghamton and Utica areas all lost private jobs in the past year, and Rochester’s growth rate was zero, the new data indicate, while only Glens Falls (+1/.9 percent) and Kingston (up 2.9 percent) among upstate labor markets managed to match the national rate, and only Ithaca (at 1.7 percent) exceeded the statewide rate.
New York’s unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent, compared to the national rate of 7.6 percent in March. The unemployment picture is the mirror image of job growth; the highest unemployment was concentrated in New York City (8.9 percent), while the number in the rest of the state is closer to the national average at 7.7 percent.
April 16, 2013
President Obama’s proposed cap on itemized federal income tax deductions for state and local taxes would cost New York residents $3.8 billion a year, according to a report released by Governor Cuomo’s office today. However, you’ll have to dig a little to find that number: Obama isn’t mentioned until page 11 of the 26-page document.
The opening section of the report (which is, by the way, useful and well-researched in most respects) focuses on how bad it would be for New Yorkers if the federal government were to completely eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes. However, no one in a position of authority in Washington is actually proposing such a thing. The much more more serious risk to New York is that the White House and Congress will agree to some form of limit on itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers, as Obama proposed in his budget last week (reviving a proposal he first trotted out three years ago).
March 21, 2013
So, in the end, the state’s pension guardian caved, after all.
To his credit, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli did not embrace Governor Cuomo’s dubious proposal to allow localities to massively underpay pension contributions to the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), trading short-term savings for potentially open-ended long-term liabilities.
However, NYSLRS’ sole trustee did the next-worst thing: unnecessarily offering an “alternative” revision to an existing pension cost deferral program, enacted with his support three years ago.
(Click here for subsequent post on separate teacher pension funding changes.)
March 20, 2013
Rejecting almost every cost-sharing proposal suggested by the management side, a state arbitration panel has awarded a two-year, 6.6 percent increase in base salaries to members of the police officers union in the Village of Rockville Centre in Nassau County. (See correction and clarification at end of item.)
The combination of an above-inflation salary hike and protection of existing perks for Rockville Centre cops is the latest example of a syndrome that has driven up and locked in unsustainable compensation costs for police and firefighters across New York State. Unfortunately, Governor Cuomo seems on the verge of blowing a golden opportunity to force meaningful arbitration reform.
March 19, 2013
"We are once again cutting taxes."
Details aren’t yet settled, but news reports this morning quote Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos as saying the 2013-14 state budget will include $700 million in tax cuts. Other reports and rumors suggest a somewhat smaller amount.
We’ll see soon enough. Meanwhile, as Capitol reporters and lobbyists disappear down the rabbit hole of Albany budget spin, keep in mind what then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in 2010 when asked if he would agree to an extension of a temporary tax increase:
It was supposed to sunset. If it doesn’t sunset, it’s a tax [hike].
Speaking in his characteristic staccato style, Cuomo was not taking some unusual or idiosyncratic position. He was simply employing a common yardstick for evaluating the fiscal impact of policy changes: the current-law baseline.
March 14, 2013
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Fifty-seven of New York’s 62 counties lost more residents to other parts of the state or the nation than they gained between 2010 and 2012, according to newly released U.S. Census estimates. Eleven of those counties might be described as demographically dying: they not only had more people move out than in, but they recorded more deaths than births.
During the same period, a total of 224,468 more residents moved out of New York than moved in from other states, by far the nation’s largest net domestic migration loss. This builds on a long-term trend. Measured as a percentage of 2010 population, New York’s net domestic out-migration rate of 1.16 percent between 2010 and 2012 was fourth highest of any state’s, after Rhode Island (1.26 percent), Illinois (1.22 percent) and New Jersey (1.16 percent). Thanks to an influx of foreign immigrants and a net surplus of births over deaths, New York State’s total population grew by 192,157, or about 1 percent, while the nation’s estimated population was growing 1.7 percent during the period.