Empire Center for
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April 8, 2013
Noting that New Yorkers had been treated last week to “almost daily political perp walks” involving “a parade of office-holders,” an editorial in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal pointed out: “The bigger scandal in the Empire State continues to be what the politicians do that’s legal.”
March 11, 2013
Based on their just-introduced one-house budget, Assembly Democrats don’t support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to eliminate all required reports by local governments and school districts to state agencies. From a transparency and accountability standpoint, that’s good news for taxpayers and the general public, as explained here.
Much less positively, in the same Article 7 budget bill, Assembly Democrats go along with the governor’s proposal to raid the State Insurance Fund (SIF) for $1.75 billion, which I criticize in this New York Post op-ed today.
March 4, 2013
In line with New York’s motto — “Excelsior” — the state assumes its tax receipts are headed ever upward.
Late last week, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced they had agreed to a consensus forecast adding $200 million to the combined receipts already budgeted for fiscal years 2012-13 (which ends on March 31) and 2013-14. Cuomo’s Executive Budget already had assumed healthy tax receipts growth of 4.8 percent— so the consensus simply pushes the envelope a little further out there, in an arguably riskier direction.
February 27, 2013
Carl Schramm, entrepreneurially minded economist and professor at Syracuse University, worries that “economic amnesia” may hinder the long-term recovery prospects of Syracuse — and, by implication, other once-dynamic upstate cities.
Writing in Forbes, Schramm notes that the Syracuse of the 19th and early 20th centuries relied on home-grown talent to become an economic dynamo — a place variously known as the Candle City, the Crafts City, the China City and the Gear City for its innovative methods of producing everything from tapers to motors. Today, Syracuse is afflicted with a heavy tax burden and high poverty rates, which in term threaten the long-term fiscal stability of its city government.
December 17, 2012
Instead of raising $85 million by hiking commercial tolls 45 percent, the state Thruway Authority will be shifting at least $60 million in State Police Thruway patrol costs to the state budget’s general fund. That’s the apparent upshot of today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo and the Thruway Authority’s chairman, as reported by the Albany Times Union. It’s good news for transportation companies and their customers, if not necessarily taxpayers in general. But it’s also a bit mystifying.
Given the state’s $1 billion projected general fund gap for fiscal 2013-14 (not counting any negative impacts from Superstorm Sandy), it’s a bit of surprise to learn the state has $60 million to spare. Perhaps Cuomo’s Budget Division thinks there are significant savings to be achieved by redeploying some “Troop T” officers to duties off the Thruway — making the net budget impact far less than $60 million. If this is the case, why the drawn out toll-hike drama in the first place? (By the way, the fiscal 2013 general fund budget for State Police, excluding the Thruway patrol, is $454 million.)
November 26, 2012
For a second straight year, Governor Andrew Cuomo has fallen behind the schedule for releasing the required quarterly update to the state financial plan. And for a second straight year, the governor can’t come up with a persuasive reason for the delay.
In today’s Post, Fred Dicker quotes an administration source as saying the mid-year update is “all pre-Sandy numbers,” so the superstorm cannot be used as an excuse.
November 14, 2012
“Cash-strapped New York has tentatively chosen the highest bidder to produce driver’s licenses under a disputed contract that would provide only black-and-white photos and end up costing the state nearly $38 million more than the current contract if it’s approved,” the Associated Press reports today.
Your next driver's license?
The current driver’s license vendor, De La Rue North America Inc., has had the contract for 16 years but was advised by the Division of Motor Vehicles 10 months ago that the price of licenses would need to be reduced due to “significant budgetary constraints,” the AP story says. De La Rue submitted a bid 10 percent lower than the current contract price — but the DMV reportedly awarded the contract to CBN Secure Technology Inc. of Ottawa, Canada, even though CBN’s bid was $38 million higher.
November 12, 2012
The prices of some previously high-flying stocks such as Apple recently have been plummeting, and the stock market has just suffered “its worst week of declines in five months,” the Wall Street Journal reports. This is not good news for savers and investors — but it may be causing sighs of relief in some corners of the state Capitol.
The state Division of the Budget is counting on a Wall Street stock sell-off to meet its financial plan target for state personal income tax (PIT) collections in the current fiscal year. As of September, at the midway point in the state fiscal year, PIT receipts were below forecast. However, the 2012-13 financial plan assumed the year will end with a big increase in what are known as “extension payments” for tax year 2012. This, the Enacted Financial Plan says, “reflects an assumption of early realization of capital gains due to the projected sunset of the Bush tax cuts as scheduled starting with tax year 2013.”
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April 12, 2012
New York’s economic performance over the past decade was mediocre — but its future looks worse, according to the 5th annual Rich States, Poor States report, just issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The report — co-authored by the noted supply-side economist Arthur Laffer; Wall Street Journal editorial board member and economics writer Steve Moore; and Jonathan Williams, director of ALEC’s Center for State Fiscal Reform — ranks states on both a backward-looking index of Economic Performance for 2000-2010, and a forward-looking Economic Outlook index.
New York achieved a middling-to-fair rank of 21st in per-capita income growth and 24th in payroll growth during the past decade, but its overall Economic Performance rank came in at 40th, due to a last-place ranking for domestic migration. (New York’s loss of population to other states has been documented by the Empire Center here, and here.)
January 27, 2012
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New York’s ranking in the Tax Foundation’s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index is second to last, just ahead of New Jersey. Our climate ranked 49th — second worst — in 2011, and we’re 49th again in the new index. California was ranked just above New York at 48th.
The state’s business tax climate didn’t improve in Andrew Cuomo’s first year as governor, according to the Tax Foundation. To the contrary: while our overall ranking didn’t change, New York’s index “score” actually declined, thanks to the December 2011 income tax increase pushed through by Cuomo under the guise of “fairness reform.” (more…)