Commentary

Budget deficits papered over with borrowed money and fiscal gimmicks. Unaffordable union contracts. Pension contributions “amortized” into the future. Retiree health benefits promised but unfunded. Corruption probes and whiffs of scandal. Accountability blurred, responsibility shirked, and hard decisions avoided again and again. That litany could describe any number of old, declining American cities—including a few that, like Detroit, actually went broke. But the same dysfunction exists in affluent corners of New York’s archetypal suburb: Long Island Read More

Long Island town officials are crying the blues over the budgetary squeeze supposedly created by the state’s property-tax cap. They’re not alone: You’ll hear much the same from town pols elsewhere in the metro region and across New York state. But the thrust of their complaints — that the tax cap is somehow blocking urgent public projects and programs — just won’t hold water. Read More

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. Too bad he also passed up a golden opportunity to go further in the right direction. Read More

Bill de Blasio was at a ballgame in Queens last Sunday afternoon when a group of rural landowners, town officials, Second Amendment advocates and Tea Party activists rallied in the Southern Tier village of Bainbridge on behalf of a radical reform that would dramatically enhance the mayor’s power in his own backyard: a breakup of New York state. Read More

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state legislative leaders would have you believe that they just approved "property tax cuts for homeowners," as described in their joint announcement of an end-of-session deal last week. Don't believe them. Read More

New York City’s pension costs will reach nearly $8.8 billion in the coming 2016 fiscal year — more than double the 2006 level and nearly eight times the 2001 amount. Yet now, with a week to go in the state legislative session, Albany is poised to drive those costs even higher. Read More

As the state legislative session draws to a close, Gov. Cuomo and the state Democratic Committee are launching an online media campaign to push for an extension of his landmark property-tax cap. It’s easy to understand why: Unlike many highly touted policy reforms, the tax cap’s actually working. Which is why it should be made permanent. Read More

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a desperately needed overhaul of that state’s massively underfunded pension system. The case has chilling implications for Albany as well as Springfield — and for New York City as well as Chicago. Read More

Few economic development initiatives in New York State’s history have been the subject of more marketing hype than START-UP NY, which created scores of tax-free micro-zones on and near college campuses around the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo has spared no superlatives in describing his expectations for the program, backing it with a slick, $47 million advertising campaign that touted START-UP as proof that “in New York State, we’re changing the way we do business.” But the results so far haven’t come close to living up to the governor’s rhetoric. 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.