LI towns cry a river on tax cap by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Some Long Island town officials are crying the blues over the budgetary squeeze supposedly created by the state's property tax cap, according to Newsday. But the thrust of their complaints—that the tax cap is somehow blocking towns from funding urgent needs and projects—just won't hold water.

Due to low inflation, the basic tax cap for local fiscal years beginning Jan. 1, 2016, will be 0.73 percent, lowest since the cap's 2011 enactment. [Read_more]

A new bad idea for NY cities by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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A Syracuse Common Council member says he'll introduce a city ordinance forcing city government contractors to hire some of their workers from city neighborhoods.

Councilor Khalid Bey's hiring preference proposal reflects an understandable desperation to jump-start employment growth in a city with 33.2 percent poverty rate.

It's also a really bad idea. [Read_more]

A check on transparency by Tim Hoefer |  | NY Torch

The MTA has now paid the Empire Center's expenses for a successful lawsuit compelling timely release of the agency's payroll data. [Read_more]

“Less profit, less profit, less profit” by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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Governor Andrew Cuomo is blaming the profit motive for employer resistance to raising New York's statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Even some notable liberal economists who generally favor a higher federal minimum wage are not in favor of going up as far as $15, as the Manhattan Institute's Alex Armlovich pointed out in this Daily News op-ed over the weekend.

Yet the governor, so far, has yet to acknowledge any possible tradeoffs from a policy that would make it much more expensive for employers to hire unskilled or less skilled entry-level workers. [Read_more]

Going for broke on wages? by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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The $15-an-hour minimum wage proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo has enormous potential implications for labor markets and employer costs in many New York business sectors, especially upstate. [Read_more]

EPA’s double standard at work in NY by Kenneth Girardin |  | NY Torch

If a huge private corporation with billions of dollars in revenues at its disposal was caught discharging a “probable human carcinogen” into a rural upstate New York creek, it would immediately be branded in some circles as environmental public enemy number-one.

But the federal government’s own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is quite deliberately doing exactly the same thing—on purpose—in the Rensselaer County town of Nassau. [Read_more]

Tweaking NY’s pension math by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Just in time for Wall Street’s latest bout of bearish volatility, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is taking an important step to fortify New York’s largest pension fund. [Read_more]

How “North NY” would stack up by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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If the New York counties north of the New York City metro region were to split off and become a separate state, how would it rank nationally?

The question is prompted by news accounts of last weekend's Southern Tier rally by a coalition of groups whose members want upstate to secede from the rest of New York. Not all the advocates favor creation of a separate state, however. Some favor absorption into Pennsylvania, while others suggest avoiding the constitutional hurdles of full statehood by changing New York's own constitution to create two "autonomous regions" within the outline of a "token" remaining single state. In addition, their definitions of "upstate" seem to differ. [Read_more]

NY leans on a volatile Wall Street by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The stock market turmoil of the last week is a reminder of why it's risky, verging on foolhardy, for New York's state government to depend as heavily as it does on high-income households and Wall Street investors.

In the current fiscal year, taxes paid by the highest-earning 1 percent of New York taxpayers—including commuters to jobs in the state—are expected to generate 43 percent of personal income tax receipts, which in turn translates into 27 percent of total state taxes. [Read_more]

How NY stacks up on business taxes by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

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New York's tax climate for key business sectors—with the notable exception of manufacturing—ranks at or near the bottom among 50 states, according to study by the Tax Foundation and the KPMG accounting firm. [Read_more]

A flat Q1 for NY Pension Fund by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

On the heels of a sub-par fiscal year, New York State's largest public pension fund has just reported another weak quarter for investment returns.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli today said the Common Retirement Fund (CRF), of which he is sole trustee, had gained just 0.52 percent during the three months ending June 30, the first quarter of the fund's 2015-16 fiscal year. The CRF finances pension benefits for nearly all non-New York City state and local government retirees, other than educational professionals. [Read_more]
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