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Policy Briefings


  • Property Taxes: The Case for a Cap

    August 03, 2010
    Governor David Paterson announced June 3 that he will propose legislation to implement a cap on school property tax levies in New York. As recommended by the governor's Commission on Real Property Tax Relief, the cap would limit the growth in school property tax levies to 4 percent or to 120 percent of the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
  • Blueprint for a Better Budget

    A Plan of Action for New York State

    By: E.J. McMahon and Josh Barro
    Complete report in PDF format
    January 04, 2010
    This document represents an effort to develop a fiscally practical, comprehensive approach to putting New York State's budgetary house in order.
  • Empire State Exodus

    The Mass Migration of New Yorkers to Other States

    Complete report in PDF format
    October 27, 2009
    The Empire State is being drained of an invaluable resource—people. From 2000 to 2008, in both absolute and relative terms, New York experienced the nation's largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.
  • Revenues Down, Spending Up

    The Growth in New York's Long-Term Budget Gap

    Complete report in PDF format
    September 09, 2009
    Almost all of the projected $2.1 billion deficit in this year’s New York State budget can be traced to falling tax receipts. But rising spending will represent a growing share of the problem over the next three years. In fact, more than one-third of the projected growth in next year’s gap, and over half the growth in the gap for fiscal 2013, can be traced to spending increases beyond those forecast by the Division of the Budget (DOB) in April.
  • Plenty of Public Pension Sweeteners Pending in State Legislature

    Lise Bang-Jensen

    Complete report in PDF format
    June 04, 2009
  • Lifting the Shroud of Secrecy

    Complete report in PDF format
    November 10, 2008
    The "people's right to know" is a hollow concept when government can withhold vital information until it is too late for the people's voice to be heard. Unfortunately, that is what happens all too frequently in New York State, when details of collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions are kept secret until it is too late for them to be debated or altered. Multi-year deals on public employee wages and benefits typically account for much of the annual growth in local government and school district budgets. However, government officials routinely refuse to divulge important aspects of tentative contract agreements —including long-term fiscal impacts—until the contracts are ratified by both sides.
  • High-Stakes Taxing

    New York's Prospects Under the Next President's Tax Agenda
    Complete report in PDF format
    September 17, 2008
    This report reviews the impact of federal tax cuts on New York State since 2001 and looks at how the Empire State would be affected by the sharply divergent tax policy agendas of the 2008 presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Estimates are provided for the direct New York impact of the candidates’ principal individual income tax proposals over the next two years.
  • Salvaging NY's School "Contracts"

    Complete report in PDF format
    April 17, 2008
    The state's Contracts for Excellence (C4E) program—centerpiece of former Gov. Spitzer's 2007 education reform program—has been seriously hobbled by flaws in its assumptions about the mechanisms of reform, by misguided beliefs about “what works” in achieving excellence, and by a compressed timeline for adoption and implementation. For better or worse—mostly worse—C4E could now more accurately stand for “Commitments for Expenditures.” Spitzer’s “contracts” have ended up looking more like a typical government grants program, draped with the jargon of reform.
  • NY Unplugged? Building Energy Capacity and Curbing Energy Rates in the Empire State

    Complete report in PDF format
    March 12, 2008
    Action by Albany is urgently needed to expand energy capacity and reduce energy costs. Yet state laws and regulations in recent years have actually done the opposite—limiting capacity and raising costs. And the energy policies of the Spitzer-Paterson administration threaten to make the situation worse. This report reviews the state policy missteps that have threatened to short-circuit New York’s energy system and recommends a series of corrective measures.
  • Rx NY: A Prescription for More Accessible Health Care in NY

    by Tarren Bragdon

    Complete report in PDF format
    December 11, 2007
    This report offers a way to make health care more accessible and affordable for all New Yorkers without expanding Medicaid. As an alternative to the publicly subsidized approach, it offers market-driven reforms to make private insurance more affordable and accessible.
  • Taylor Made: The Cost and Consequences of New York's Public-Sector Labor Laws

    by Terry O'Neil and E.J. McMahon

    Complete report in PDF format
    October 17, 2007
    The 40-year-old Taylor Law, which allowed state and local government employees to unionize and collectively bargain contracts, created a framework for peaceful resolution of contract disputes. But New Yorkers are paying a high price for labor peace - as reflected in the nation's heaviest state and local tax burden. This report explores aspects of the Taylor Law that tilt in favor of unions - to the disadvantage of taxpayers - and identifies necessary reforms.
  • Albany Oink

    February 19, 2007
  • Defusing New York's Pension Bomb

    By E.J. McMahon, Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy

    Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy
    Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
    Complete report in PDF format
    June 07, 2006
    The soaring cost of New York State's public pension systems can be permanently controlled by shifting to the sort of employer-subsidized individual retirement plans now popular in the private sector, according to an updated Empire Center study of the state's pension structure.
  • Taxing and Spending in the Empire State: Overview of the 2006-07 Executive Budget

    By E.J. McMahon, Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy

    Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
    Empire Center Special Report 02-06
    Complete report in PDF format
    February 24, 2006
    New York State's 2006-07 Executive Budget would kick off a new round of personal income, business and estate tax reductions worth more than $3 billion annually when fully implemented over the next three years. But the cuts are coupled with more than $1 billion in proposed tax and fee increases that would take effect sooner.
  • Rising Medicaid Cost Charted in New Report

    February 15, 2006
    The state-funded share of Medicaid costs will escalate rapidly over the next few years as Albany assumes responsibility for a greater share of county and New York Medicaid costs, according to projections explained in a new report from the Empire Center for New York State.
  • From Headache to Migraine? Medicaid Cap Strengthens Need for Remedies in NY

    By Tarren Bragdon

    NY Health Points Policy Briefing No. 1
    Complete report in PDF format
    February 15, 2006
    New York State has long stood alone in forcing local taxpayers to pay up to half of all Medicaid costs not reimbursed by the federal government. This divided financial responsibility is a key reason why New York easily leads the nation in Medicaid spending.
  • Breaking the Budget in New York State

    By E.J. McMahon

    Policy Briefing No. 3
    Complete report in PDF format
    October 19, 2005
    After failing to adopt a budget on time for 20 of the last 21 years, New York State legislative leaders are seeking voter approval of a constitutional amendment that they insist on characterizing as "budget reform."
  • Power Grab and Purse Grab - The Problem with NY's Prop One

    September 23, 2005
    A proposed state constitutional amendment that would shift budget-making power to Albany's legislative leaders went down to a resounding defeat at the polls on Nov. 8.
  • Helping Kids, Saving Money: How to Reform New York's Special Education System

    Complete report in PDF format
    August 31, 2005
    This report shows that New York can reduce special ed costs and enrollment--and improve parental satisfaction with the program as part of the bargain--by adopting two simple reforms: changing the formula funding special education from a "bounty" system to a "lump-sum" system; and implementing a voucher program for children in special education.
  • Another Middle-Class Tax? How the Federal AMT Hits New Yorkers

    By E. J. McMahon, Director, Empire Center for New York State Policy

    Empire Center Special Report 01-05
    Complete report in PDF format
    April 12, 2005
    Federal income tax cuts enacted during the past four years have been particularly benefcial to New York, saving Empire State residents a total of $36 billion through 2004. However, as documented in this report, New Yorkers are also being hit harder than most Americans by what's been called "the most serious problem faced by federal taxpayers" -- the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).
  • Getting More Bang for CFE Bucks

    By Jay Greene

    Policy Briefing No. 1
    Complete report in PDF format
    March 08, 2005
    The Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision ordering more than $5 billion a year in additional spending on New York City schools is likely to have little effect on student achievement in the city. Because lack of money is not a primary explanation for the city's low student performance, additional money by itself will do little to improve the situation.