Blog

The budgetary problems of bigger New York localities, such as Yonkers, tend to dominate the headlines — but contenders for the dubious distinction of most financially troubled municipality in the Empire State would also include Schenectady... Read More

Governor Andrew Cuomo needs to play a more active leadership role in responding to widespread reports of increasing fiscal distress among New York counties, municipalities and school districts, according to this Newsday commentary by the Empire Center's E.J. McMahon. Read More

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has marked the beginning of Labor Day weekend by announcing the next wave of increases in taxpayer-funded pension costs for local governments throughout the state (except New York City, which has separate systems). Read More

Republican pols in New York’s downstate suburbs loudly celebrated last week’scourt ruling tossing out a payroll tax enacted by the Legislature in 2009 to subsidize mass transit in the 12-county Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) region. Read More

The growing fiscal problems of many local governments in New York State are prompting more talk about consolidation of services and mergers of local governments. Some influential voices in western New York, echoing former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, continue to push for a regional approach. Read More

New York State’s Common Retirement Fund, which underwrites state and local pensions, returned a negative 0.92 percent on its assets during the quarter ending June 30, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli just announced. That would translate into a loss of about $1.2 billion on an asset base of roughly $148 billion. Read More

New York’s economy would be hit especially hard by Washington’s potential “Taxmageddon” — the scheduled end-of-year expiration of the Bush income tax cuts and of a temporary “patch” that prevents the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) from hitting more middle-class taxpayers, according to a just-posted analysis from the Tax Foundation. Read More

The Obama administration's offer to waive work requirements for recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) is being opposed by leading congressional Republicans, who have introduced legislation to overturn the action. While state governments generally welcome added flexibility in administering federal programs, there is a risk the new federal policy will be used in some states to undermine the work-first principle at the heart of the successful 1996 welfare reform. Read More

On July 12th, the Obama Administration announced that it would unilaterally allow states to experiment through waivers with different ways of defining the “work” required of welfare recipients under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. This could be a first step to permanently watering down the “work participation” requirements that were a centerpiece of the 1996 welfare reform law and to backing away from the primary theme of TANF: personal responsibility. Read More

Recent trends on Wall Street indicate that public pension funds with fiscal years ending June 30 probably missed their rate-of-return targets for 2012. I delve into one plan in particular — the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System — on the editorial blog at Newsday. Read More

It was Mark Twain who supposedly said “no man’s property is safe when Congress is in session” — a concept that a surely extends to the New York State Legislature as well. In that spirit, here’s something to celebrate on the Fourth of July: the Legislature not only left Albany on schedule June 21, it passed fewer bills this year than in any regular session since 1914, according to an analysis by New York Public Interest Research Group. Read More

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

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