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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

Today is full of bad news for Wall Street. The New York Times reports that the street is moving mid-paying jobs to middle America, and S&P has a new report out saying that the i-banking business is moving to a "less profitable, but somewhat lower risk, business model." Read More

New York is probably less affected than most states by today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision. The court effectively has said that almost all of Affordable Care Act (ACA) passes constitutional muster. This means the entire country can now experience the effects of the sort of regulatory policies (such as guaranteed issue, community rating and mandated coverages) that have done much to make health insurance so costly here... Read More

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) litigation of 1993-2006 established the principle that New York State is constitutionally obligated to ensure funding of a “sound, basic education” for pupils in New York City schools. Today, the state’s highest court cleared the way for a lawsuit claiming that funding levels for about a dozen of New York’s small city school districts doesn’t meet that requirement. Read More

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