Three years ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo blew a rare opportunity to fundamentally reform one of the most costly provisions of the New York State law regulating public-sector collective bargaining.
Now he's about to blow it again.
In 2014, the Empire Center created guidelines for what information local governments and school districts should make available on their websites—and found that most of the state's 500 largest municipalities and districts were not meeting that standard.
New York has seldom seen an executive initiative as politically radical or economically reckless as Gov. Cuomo’s proposal for a $15-per-hour statewide minimum wage.
"I think the narrative has gone askew as we talk about what to do about this," said Tim Hoefer, executive director of the government watchdog Empire Center for Public Policy. "We are one of the states with the highest property taxes in the nation, and the cost drivers are partially at the local level, but they're also driven by mandates from the states that aren't paid for."
Tim Hoefer, executive director of the Empire Center for Public Policy, argued that municipalities already have every incentive to streamline services and that little would be gained by "throwing more money at them" to do so. He also contended that unfunded state mandates are more to blame for high property taxes than the fact that New York has about 1,600 towns, villages, cities and counties.
Police officers and firefighters in the city are among the highest paid government employees in the six-county Mohawk Valley region, according to a recent report by the Empire Center for Public Policy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit independent think tank based in Albany.
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
The Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscal watchdog organization for New York state government at all levels, has put out its annual "What They Make" report for municipal employees, and the results seem to indicate that Auburn city workers are getting paid well.