capital-1-pic-copy-150x150-1108330Medicaid and other health-care issues dominated the most-read posts on the Empire Center’s NYTorch blog in 2019—a year that’s ended under the shadow of a major state Medicaid budget overrun first disclosed on this site.

Energy, education, tax policy and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were other issue areas popular with blog readers in the past 12 months. Based on website page views, here is the countdown of the NYTorch Top 10 for 2019:

#10: AOC’s 70% hit on NY
E.J. McMahon, Jan. 6
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Queens kicked off her congressional career by proposing to finance a “Green New Deal” program with a 70 percent top federal tax rate on incomes of $10 million or more—which would gouge New York’s tax base, in particular.

#9: Wind bids rigged for unions
Ken Girardin, Aug. 26
The Cuomo administration appears to have violated state law by forcing offshore wind developers to cut deals with construction unions, inflating costs and boxing out non-union subcontractors on billions in construction work.

#8: Cuomo signals a Medicaid crunch
Bill Hammond, Aug. 13
The Cuomo administration’s quarterly budget update included a warning for the state’s health-care industry: Medicaid cuts could be coming.

#7: Parsing Cuomo’s health-care cuts
Bill Hammond, Feb. 22
Governor Cuomo’s new budget-balancing plan is roiling the state’s health-care industry because it trims Medicaid spending while leaving education and other programs untouched.

#6: Cuomo’s self-inflicted crisis
Bill Hammond, Nov. 22
The remarkable thing about the state’s multi-billion-dollar Medicaid crisis is that it is almost entirely the result of the Cuomo administration’s own actions.

#5: NY per-pupil spending reaches $23k
E.J. McMahon, May 21
New York’s spending on elementary and secondary education reached a record $23,091 per pupil in 2017, 89 percent above the national average and once again topping all other states in this category, according to the latest U.S. Census data.

#4: Cuomo blows a natural gasket
Ken Girardin, Nov. 12
Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened to yank the license of a major downstate natural gas supplier—because he didn’t like how the company responded to his refusal to permit a new supply pipeline.

#3: Policing the MTA’s overtime police
E.J. McMahon, May 9
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority assigned its own police force to monitor attendance and overtime use by Long Island Railroad employees, but a review of SeeThroughNY’s searchable payroll database indicates the MTA Police agency hasn’t exactly been skimping on its own employees’ overtime and other extra pay, such as shift differentials and holiday pay

#2: Health costs spiral in NY
Bill Hammond, Aug. 9
New York’s employer-sponsored health insurance premiums—already among the steepest in the mainland United States—rose faster than the national average in 2018, pushing the state’s affordability gap to new heights.

#1: Cuomo’s $1.7B Medicaid mulligan
Bill Hammond, July 9
This year’s state budget came with a hidden asterisk: In the final throes of negotiations with legislative leaders, Governor Cuomo quietly postponed a month’s worth of Medicaid payments from the last week of March to the first week of April – shifting $1.7 billion in spending from one fiscal year to the next.

You may also like

State Offers Taxpayer-Funded Health Coverage to Unionized Home Care Workers

In a new subsidy for the health-care union 1199 SEIU, the Hochul administration is allowing the union's benefit fund for home care aides to shift some members into taxpayer-funded health coverage through the Essential Plan. Read More

A Closer Look at $4 Billion in State Capital Grants to Health Providers

The state has awarded $4.3 billion in health-care capital grants over the past decade, with a disproportionate share flowing to upstate providers, Health Department records show. Th Read More

NY’s net taxpayer migration loss dropped a bit in 2021-22, latest IRS data show

The outflow of New York taxpayers to the rest of the country subsided from the previous year's record high during the second tax-filing period following the March 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, according to the latest (IRS). Read More

Hochul’s Pandemic Study Is a $4.3 Million Flop

The newly released study of New York's coronavirus pandemic response falls far short of what Governor Hochul promised – and the state urgently needs – in the aftermath of its worst natural disaster in modern history. Read More

NY’s biggest public pension fund gained nearly 12% in FY 2024

Rebounding from its biggest loss since the Global Financial Crisis, New York's Common Retirement Fund realized a strong investment gain of 11.55 percent in fiscal year 2024, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced. The Fund, which now stands just below $268 billion, supports pensions paid to members of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS). Read More

82 Questions Hochul’s Pandemic Report Should Answer

This is the month when New Yorkers are due to finally receive an official report on the state's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the deadliest disasters in state history. T Read More

The Real Lack of Courage Driving NYC Congestion Pricing

Governor Hochul is taking heat after postponing the state’s years-old plan to charge drivers to enter lower Manhattan. As critics slam her for lacking “political courage,” it’s an appropriate time to examine some of the underlying issues that congestion pricing was meant to indirectly mitigate—because many if not most advocates were afraid to touch those issues themselves. And if congestion pricing proponents are to be taken at their word about their concern for MTA finances, or traffic, or air quality, they must show some of the same courage they’ve accused the governor of lacking. Read More

To Encourage Recycling, Pols Move To Trash The Legislature

New York state lawmakers in recent years have surrendered some of their policymaking and taxing powers to the executive branch. With the 2024 legislative session coming to close, they’re poised to go even further and turn those powers over to an organization outside of government entirely. Read More