In a press conference Q&A today, Mayor Bloomberg said of state spending that cuts to Medicaid and education are “politically very difficult.”
One of the reasons such cuts are politically difficult is that powerful politicians whom the people trust, including the mayor, never say clearly that New York spends far too much relative to other states and relative to our own results on such programs.
First, at the state level, New York will spend $36.5 billion, or 45 percent of state operating funds, this year on school aid (not including higher education), Medicaid, and mental hygiene.
Second, at the city level, since the mayor took office, operating spending on education — over which he has much discretion — has increased by 44 percent, to $16.8 billion. City spending on medical assistance is up 50 percent, to $5.6 billion. Such costs now represent one-third of the city’s total budget.
A 10 percent cut in both these programs at both the state and city levels would completely eliminate state deficits for this year and could close much of the city’s expected deficit for next year. Such cuts also would give both the city and state running starts on future-year year deficits.
And because New York spends far more than other states do per capita on such programs, a cut, done in conjuction with real reform, likely wouldn’t hurt patients and students, and might even help them, through more efficient, effictive service delivery.
But such cuts will remain politically difficult until some politician states these simple facts.