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November 4, 2011


Math and Reading in NY schools

Tim Hoefer

New York doesn’t look so hot in the just-released 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) report cards in math and reading, designed to show “what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.”

Generally, the trending shows improvements (both in New York and nationwide) between 1992 and 2007. However, while schools have held the line nationally since 2007, New York has been falling off. Examining the 2011 math report card, we found:

  • Twenty percent of fourth graders rank as below basic. That’s up from 15 percent in 2007, while nationally 18 percent are considered below basic, down from 19 percent in 2007;

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September 6, 2011


New York’s BIG government

E.J. McMahon

New York has one of the nation’s largest and highest-paid state and local government workforces, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.

Based on March 2010 payrolls, the average annual salary per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee of state and local government in New York came to $62,365, third highest among the 50 states and 24 percent above the national average. Only California and New Jersey paid higher average government salaries. The state ranking breakdown is at the Empire Center’s Data Bank.

The high cost of living in downstate New York and powerful public employee unions provide much of the explanation for its relatively high government salaries. But those factors don’t completely explain the exceptional size of the government workforce in the Empire State, as illustrated in the nearby chart.

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May 16, 2011


Another low ranking for New York’s business climate

E.J. McMahon

The Empire State is next to last — just above California — in a new ranking by corporate chief executive officers of “Best and Worst States for Business.”

Chief Executive magazine graphic

Chief Executive magazine based its ranking on a poll of 556 CEOs using criteria including taxes and regulations, workforce quality and living environment. As explained in the article’s Methodology section, “In most companies, the CEO makes the ultimate decisions about where to locate and/or expand the business, making his or her perceptions of each state critically important.”

New York’s ranking largely reflected negative CEO impressions about its tax and regulatory environment–a negative that also has dragged down the state in other regular rankings of state business climates.

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April 26, 2011


NY is number one (in dependency)

E.J. McMahon

Based on per-capita federal data, USA Today reports that “New Yorkers get more government aid per person from social programs than residents of any other state.”   The Empire State’s Medicaid spending per-person alone is more than double the average, but we’re also high in other categories of social assistance.

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February 2, 2010


Lessons from That Toddlin’ Town

E.J. McMahon

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley “is looking to lure employers from Oregon after that state’s voters approved a huge tax increase last week,” the Wall Street Journal reports in an editorial today.

The tax hike in Oregon “will help our economic development immediately. You’d better believe it,” Hizzoner told the Chicago Sun Times late last week. “We’ll be out in Oregon enticing corporations to relocate to Chicago.”

Oregon raised its top income tax rate to 11% from 9% and its corporate rate to 7.9% from 6.6%, while doubling many small business tax charges and fees. “What happened in Oregon is not good news for Oregon,” explains Mr. Daley. “They believe that anybody who makes $125,000 or more [annually] or businesses or anyone who makes $250,000—they’re gonna start taxing them. They call them ‘rich people.’”

Mr. Daley isn’t buying that. “I’ve always thought America stands for [rewarding success]. You finish high school. You work hard, go to college and you hope to succeed in life. I never knew it’s a class war—that those who succeed in life are the ones that have to bear all the burden. I never realized that. It will be a whole change in America that those who succeed and work hard, we’re gonna tax ‘em more than anyone else.”

If he’s really looking for a competitive advantage to exploit, Daley should turn his gaze to the east.  New York City residents are subject to a top state-local income tax rate of 12.62 percent, the highest in the country, which Governor Paterson’s budget would raise to 12.85 percent.  The top state-local corporate tax in New York City is over 18 percent of allocated net income.

The Illinois income tax rate currently tops out at 3 percent, and the corporate tax rate is a flat 7.3 percent.

November 24, 2009


More on state tax trends

E.J. McMahon

Josh Barro of Manhattan Institute has a strong column at RealClearMarkets digging more deeply into the Rockefeller Institute’s report on quarterly state tax collections.  Key take-away: “states without income taxes are generally showing admirable (and unsurprising) revenue stability.”

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October 23, 2009


Competitive contracting could cut bus costs in half

Nicole Gelinas

Wendell Cox has a new piece at newgeography on how practically to open up transit monopolies. One part, which discusses how London runs its public-bus service, is relevant to New York:

Transport for London … is competitively bid. Between 1985 and 2000, the costs per mile of service declined more than one-half, adjusted for inflation [italics Cox's]. Much the same has occurred in Socialist Scandinavia. All Copenhagen bus service is competitively bid. Stockholm not only bid its bus service, but also saved money by competitively bidding its metro (subway) system.

In New York, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief Jay Walder just so happens to come from TfL. In fact, Walder may sign a two-year, no-bid contract with TfL to advise the MTA on stuff like swipe-card technology. Swipe-card technology is proven worldwide, so it’s unclear what special value TfL could offer here.

Instead, maybe Walder should ask TfL to advise New York pols on the benefits of competitively contracted bus service, with the public sector doing its job — designing a good contract structure and enforcing bus-only lanes — and the private sector doing its new job, providing good service at a cost-effective price.

At a Citizens Budget Commission breakfast earlier this week, Walder spent some time telling the attendees how dismally London’s effort to privatize its Tube failed. Right — but Walder didn’t mention that the bus side of things has succeeded.

May 26, 2009


New York’s giant sucking sound

E.J. McMahon

Following in the footsteps of Tom Golisano, the owners of a small Buffalo area company have announced that New York State’s income tax hike is prompting them to move to Florida — except, unlike Golisano, they are also taking their entire company with them.

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May 11, 2009


An Empiricist looks at low-tax Tarheels

E.J. McMahon

One of Albany’s senior State Capitol correspondents vacations in Flat Rock, North Carolina, and returns to report the place has “no overwhelming problems,” despite local taxes far below the New York level.

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