New York City's move over the next three years to a $15-an-hour minimum wage—the highest ever, after adjusting for inflation—will take the city into uncharted territory, fraught with risks and trade-offs for workers and businesses. Read More
New York State’s tax revenues have fallen more than $1 billion behind projections since the current state budget was adopted eight months ago. When the fiscal year starts April 1, it’ll be staring into the gaping maw of at least a $689 million shortfall. Under the circumstances, a new corporate-tax giveaway is the last thing Albany needs. Read More
For most of the past year and a half, Gov. Cuomo has sought to make the 421-a affordable housing program both less effective and more wasteful, by mandating the use of higher-priced unionized construction workers on 421-a projects. Read More
In what amounts to an unlegislated state tax hike, New York's already-high electricity rates are poised to go even higher. That’s because, essentially at Gov. Cuomo’s order, the state Public Service Commission will require electric utilities to both subsidize money-losing upstate nuclear plants and buy power from “renewable” energy sources, mainly solar and wind-generated. Read More
Earlier this month, Gov. Cuomo paid a visit to the centerpiece of his upstate economic development strategy: a massive, still unfinished “gigafactory” taxpayers spent $750 million to build and equip for SolarCity, a money-losing company with a foggy future. “This is the economy of tomorrow,” the governor gushed, according to a Buffalo News account. “It’s such a metaphor — a symbol of everything we’re doing.” Indeed. But rather than symbolizing a shiny high-tech future, the solar-panel factory could become a monument to what US Attorney Preet Bharara described as “pervasive corruption and fraud” allegedly infecting Cuomo’s signature economic development programs. Read More
The recent announcement that Dick’s Sporting Goods will build a 650,000-square-foot distribution center in Binghamton has been cited by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as further evidence of an economic resurgence in the region. “Five years ago, we had a 7.9 percent unemployment rate in the Southern Tier,” Cuomo said. “Today, 4.6 percent. The arrows are headed in the right direction.” In fact, as shown in the state Labor Department’s household survey data, the unemployment rate dropped only because fewer residents of the region are available and looking for work. If the labor force were still at its 2010 level, the unemployment rate would be 13 percent. Read More
The latest Affordable Care Act enrollment figures for New York reveal a troubling trend: Free and nearly free government-funded programs are crowding out private-sector plans in the state’s health insurance marketplace. Read More
Proponents of a single-payer health plan for New York pitch it as a cure-all — one fix that would achieve universal coverage, let people to go to any doctor or hospital, abolish copays and deductibles, cut down on paperwork, and save billions in the bargain. Forty-five billion dollars, to be precise — or so said Assembly Health Chairman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan, as the Democrat-controlled lower house passed his New York Health Act on June 1. It sounds too good to be true because it is. My analysis for the Empire Center shows that his $45 billion savings estimate relies on tendentious assumptions, debatable methods and a heavy dose of wishful thinking. Read More
During the first few years after Wall Street prices bottomed out in 2009, public-pension funds across the country reaped double-digit returns. They were riding a bull market pumped up by ultra-low interest rates, and it wouldn’t last. Now pension managers have been struggling to break even — the predictable outcome of a funding strategy that continues to expose taxpayers to unreasonable long-term risks. Read More
One of the key promises behind President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act is that it would "bend the curve" of increasing health care costs. The fact that the nation's overall health spending has been growing at the relatively slow rate of 4 percent annually is a hopeful sign. But all is not so calm in the part of the insurance industry most directly affected by the ACA — the individual and small-group markets. Read More
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