The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month in a case that could dramatically curb the power of public-sector unions — especially in New York.
New York’s government unions could lose up to $110 million a year depending on the outcome of an upcoming Supreme Court case that is fighting automatic union due deductions, according to a study released Tuesday.
New Yorkers pay the price for class action lawsuit frivolity — through “higher auto insurance rates, higher health care costs and higher taxes,” says a report by the Empire Center for Public Policy.
For Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the idea must seem like sweet payback for the pains inflicted on his state by the new federal tax plan: an elegant workaround whereby New York could replace its state income tax with a payroll tax and leave Washington, not Albany, on the hook for billions of dollars in lost revenue.
But like so many white-paper plans, the proposal — while still in its larval stage — is already running headlong into a barrage of practical questions about how precisely such a switcheroo might work.
“The more you think about this,” said E.J. McMahon, a conservative economist and founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy, “the more it makes your head spin.”
Wonder why New York pays through the nose for everything from health care to construction projects to auto insurance — and taxes? A new report from the Empire Center has a one-word answer: lawsuits.
Bill Hammond, director of health policy of the fiscally conservative Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany, N.Y., said Medicaid has been a big help for those it was designed to cover — children and the disabled. But it has grown so big that the cost hurts state efforts to pay for other necessary public services, such as education and roads. “I can’t think of any other anti-poverty program that reaches so many people. … It’s too expensive a benefit.”
“We need to transition people to get coverage in the private sector,” he said, noting how millions on the program have incomes above the federal poverty level.
Although Cuomo has said in recent weeks that he anticipates a $4 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year, E.J. McMahon of the fiscally conservative Empire Center think tank said DiNapoli’s updated estimates could indicate a shortfall of as much as $6.8 billion. The current budget totals $163 billion including federal aid.
“The comptroller’s new estimate boosts the shortfall to $6.8 billion, by far the biggest prospective blob of red ink on Albany’s books since Cuomo took office,” McMahon said.
Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative Albany-area think tank, said teacher pension costs as now structured “are unsustainable in the long term, in addition to being paid for on the taxpayers’ dime.”