Blog

School districts across New York are clamoring for a full restoration of state aid cuts known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA. But a look at spending in the state's second-largest city illustrates how this battle is not necessarily all about the kids. Read More

A little-noticed section of Governor Cuomo’s State of the State “Opportunity Agenda” calls for investing another $100 million in state money in startup companies—even as federal auditors probe Innovate NY, the state’s original dalliance with venture capital (VC). Read More

One of the hallmarks of ride-sharing services like Uber is their practice of temporarily boosting prices to encourage more drivers to accept fares. It’s supply and demand at its simplest, and while critics have derided this price mechanism, anyone giving flowers to their valentine today is living proof that “surge pricing” benefits both providers and consumers. Read More

New York State's largest public pension fund earned 1.91 percent during the quarter ending Dec. 31, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced today. Meanwhile, the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) has confirmed its contribution rate will drop for the first time in five years when pension bills for 2015-16 come due in the fall. Neither announcement says much about the long-term future path of taxpayer-funded pension costs in New York, however. Read More

Governor Andrew Cuomo's projection of future "surpluses" rests on the expectation that he "will propose, and negotiate with the Legislature to enact, Budgets that hold State Operating Funds spending growth to 2 percent." But is the governor really living under his own cap? A budget analysis by the state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office suggests, persuasively, that he isn't. Read More

Better late than never, Governor Andrew Cuomo has exercised a pocket veto of legislation that would have allowed unions representing police and other civil service employees to insist on collective bargaining of disciplinary procedures. The bill was passed at the end of session in June, but wasn't even sent to Cuomo's desk by the Senate until December. That effectively re-started the clock for gubernatorial consideration, making this a measure the governor could kill by not signing it within 30-day period, which just ended. Read More

Governor Andrew Cuomo eliminated funding of new "member item" spending when he took office four years ago—but the Ghost of Pork Barrels Past continues to haunt the state's finances. Each of Cuomo's first four Executive Budget proposals projected the depletion and elimination of what's technically known as the "Community Projects Fund - 007" -- but every year, the enacted budget has restored the money to back up reappropriations of the member item lump sum. Read More

If Sheldon Silver remains a rank-and-file legislator after stepping down as Assembly speaker, he will be losing money on the deal, according to the Empire Center's pension calculator. Read More

One of the biggest questions heading into New York’s fiscal 2016 Executive Budget presentation was how Governor Andrew Cuomo would choose to allocate an unprecedented, one-shot $5.4 billion windfall "surplus" originating with fines and penalties collected from financial institutions. Now we have the answer: under Cuomo's proposal, less than one-third of the money—barely $1.6 billion—would be absolutely, positively committed to core transportation infrastructure purposes. The rest would go to an assortment of stuff, only some of which would fit into even an extra-broad definition of “infrastructure.” Read More

It's a simple concept: governments collect tax dollars from citizens, then spends those tax dollars on services for them. Citizens have a right to know how those tax dollars are spent. Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw gets it. Read More

He didn't use the phrase himself, but the property tax credit unveiled yesterday by Governor Andrew Cuomo is of the type commonly known as a "circuit breaker." Like an electrical switch designed to automatically prevent a power overload, a circuit breaker tax credit is supposed to kick in when homeowners' property tax burdens overload their ability to pay. Cuomo's proposal would not represent a property tax cut but a means-tested state personal income break -- available only to some homeowners, and not available to owners of commercial, industrial or multi-family properties, which pay a hefty share of local taxes. Read More