Commentary

When New York’s 2 percent cap on local property tax levies was about to become law in June 2011, the statewide teachers union warned of an apocalypse just around the corner. Eight years later, New York’s school districts are better funded than ever—still atop national expenditure rankings, now laying out nearly 90 percent more per pupil than the 50-state average. But the rise in school property taxes statewide has slowed by more than two-thirds, to an average of 1.8 percent a year, saving homeowners and businesses billions of dollars in 2018 alone.   Read More

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spent most of the past two weeks pointing fingers: first at President Trump, whose tax law he blames for a sudden decline in New York’s revenues, and then at state Senate Democrats, whom he holds responsible for the Amazon fiasco. But the blame game will carry Cuomo only so far. In New York state’s executive budget system, the bucks stop with the governor. And, politically, this year’s budget process will be his most challenging yet, testing both his ability to manage legislative relations and his commitment to financial restraint. Read More

Disentangled from his rambling and often hyper-partisan State of the State Address, the fiscal basics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed state budget largely amount to more of the same policies he has pursued in the past — for better and worse. Read More

Of course Mayor de Blasio, card-carrying progressive that he is, supports setting up a government-funded single-payer health plan in New York, and declared as much in his State of the City speech on Thursday. Just 48 hours earlier, though — and perhaps unwittingly — de Blasio made the best case yet that single-payer would be a colossal waste of time and money. Read More

The prospect of a 70 percent top federal income tax rate, floated by newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on “60 Minutes” over the weekend, struck a nerve across the political spectrum. But Albany Democrats should think twice before cheering her on — because New York, in particular, would have a lot to lose from a return to confiscatory federal taxes on higher earners. Read More

Getting a jump on the arrival of the Democrats’ big new Senate majority in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week delivered a preview of his annual State of the State Address. He used it to remind his fellow Democrats of the many areas where they agree — but also to draw a few lines he won’t cross. Read More

It’s hard to take Medicare for All seriously when its proponents keep saying deeply unserious things. The latest case in point comes from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand from the Bronx. Read More

Urban progressives took over the New York state Senate in November, but the body’s biggest swing group will be suburban Democrats. These Democrats will need to prove themselves to their voters, many of them homeowners in places like Long Island and West­­chester. The most valuable deliverable for the nascent suburban caucus will be a permanent extension of Gov. Cuomo’s property-tax cap. Read More

The state-city deal to bring one of Amazon’s two new headquarters to Long Island City might at least have provided New York City with another big benefit—a much-needed model of advanced, efficient building practices. After all, Amazon isn’t just a big corporation: It’s widely admired as a global leader in technological innovation. Instead, it appears the deal will ensure that Amazon is saddled with the same arcane and outmoded construction-union work rules and compensation levels that have saddled New York City with the nation’s highest urban construction costs. 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.