Commentary

Among New York school districts with enrollments of 4,000 or more, the list of highest property taxes per pupil is what you’d expect — topped by Great Neck, Scarsdale, Syosset and Bedford. In fifth place is a somewhat less wealthy outlier: the Northport-East Northport district. It will raise $28,556 per pupil in property taxes next year, based on data from the state’s 2018-19 Property Tax Report Card. That’s 57 percent above the Suffolk County average. Read More

The newly revealed federal probe of Crystal Run Healthcare, a large doctors group in the Hudson Valley, fits a common pattern with Albany scandals: It's not just about bad behavior but also bad policy. Read More

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill making it harder for government workers to escape labor unions, he said it was just “the first step of the resistance.” Translation: It wasn’t the last favor Cuomo hopes to do for New York’s powerful public-sector unions in anticipation of the coming US Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which could void state laws compelling government workers to pay dues-like agency fees to unions they choose not to join. Read More

Cuomo has further boosted the state’s already heavy reliance on taxes paid by income millionaires. This has made Albany’s revenue base more fragile and volatile — a problem aggravated by the new federal cap on state and local tax deductions, which effectively raises total tax rates for New York’s highest earners. Read More

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in Janus v. AFSCME, a constitutional challenge to the dues-like union fees many state and local government workers must now pay. The outcome could shake the foundations of public-sector union power across the nation—especially in New York. Read More

It turns out the state is receiving way more federal aid than it needs to pay for the program—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year—thanks to an out-of-whack formula in the Affordable Care Act. Read More

The past year has been a roller-coaster for New York’s health-care system, as Congress tried repeatedly to scale back Medicaid and dismantle the Affordable Care Act while allowing other health-related programs to lapse. Because New York depends so heavily on federal health dollars, it had more to lose than almost any other state. Read More

Gov. Andrew Cuomo began 2018 the way he ended 2017: demonizing Washington Republicans and fulminating against the newly enacted federal tax reform, especially its $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions. Two weeks after his State of the State message, Cuomo devoted a portion of his fiscal 2019 budget presentation to the same subject, pledging again to come up with a plan to restructure the code by shifting from an employee-paid to an employer-paid income-tax system. Read More

The governor said he’d explore the feasiblity of “a major shift” of New York’s state tax burden from individuals (who will be losing federal deductions) to businesses (which will be keeping them), via a new statewide payroll tax on employers. The idea might sound plausible on the surface. But on closer inspection, replacing even part of New York’s personal income tax (PIT) with a payroll tax would be fraught with mind-bending complications — and not very feasible at all. 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.