This year New York saw, among other things, the beginnings of the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression as the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns clobbered state tax revenues. The Empire Center worked through the year to help make sense of emerging issues in state government, providing timely analysis on its blog. Here were the Empire Center’s 10 most-read posts from 2020:
#10: Nursing Home Vacancy Rate Soars, Hinting at a Higher Coronavirus Toll
Bill Hammond, June 30
The vacancy rate in New York’s nursing homes has more than doubled since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting that the death toll among residents may be thousands higher than officially reported.
#9: NYC Led Latest State Population Drop
E.J. McMahon, March 26
For a second consecutive year, New York’s population loss was mainly concentrated downstate, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.
#8: Most NY State Workers In Line for Pay Raises Next Week
Ken Girardin, Sep. 22
The COVID shutdown left more than a million New Yorkers in line for unemployment benefits, but most New York state employees are in line for pay raises next week.
#7: State Pension Fund Lost Money in 2020, Pointing to Higher Costs Ahead
E.J. McMahon, July 30
New York State’s biggest public pension fund lost money on its investments during the fiscal year that ended March 31—a completely unsurprising result, given the coronavirus crisis and its impact on financial markets in early spring.
#6: Cuomo Administration Ducks Important Questions on Nursing Homes
Bill Hammond, July 8
A new report from the state Health Department tries to deflect blame for thousands of coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes—but undermines its own case by withholding data and engaging in tendentious analysis.
#5: How the Stimulus Bill Treats NY
E.J. McMahon, March 26
The $2 trillion federal stimulus bill on its way to passage today does not actually shortchange New York in any general sense—but it does dash Governor Cuomo’s vain hopes for a budget bailout, which is why he is so unhappy about it.
#4: Cuomo NYSDOL to Struggling Small Biz: Your Employees Will Soon Cost More
E.J. McMahon, Dec. 16
Despite the crushing impact of pandemic restrictions on small businesses throughout New York, the state Labor Department announced late today that it will move forward with a big minimum wage increase scheduled for the end of the month.
#3: Where Are New Yorkers Headed?
E.J. McMahon, Jan. 1
The population of New York State has barely increased during the 2010s, steadily shrinking as a share of the national total—and the biggest reason for the trend has been a heavy outflow of New Yorkers to other states. In line with a long-term pattern, the Empire State has lost a net 1.4 million residents to the rest of the country since 2010, including nearly 181,000 in 2018-19 alone, according to the latest annual Census Bureau estimates.
#2: The Health Department Stalls a FOIL Request for the Full COVID Death Toll in Nursing Homes
Bill Hammond, Sep. 1
The state Health Department is offering a new explanation for why it won’t provide the full death toll of coronavirus in nursing homes: it can’t find the records.
#1: Cuomo Freezing State Pay
E.J. McMahon, April 9
Governor Cuomo is invoking his “emergency” powers to unilaterally defer a 2 percent pay hike otherwise scheduled for most unionized state government workers during the new fiscal year.