It’s Alive | NY Torch

With little advance notice or fanfare, a constitutional amendment (S.1) that would give the Legislature much more power to shape the state budget was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee today. The Assembly version (A.2) was approved back in February, so the measure is now a big step closer to a statewide voter referendum.

Another Middle-Class Tax? How the Federal AMT Hits New Yorkers by E.J. McMahon | | Reports

Federal income tax cuts enacted during the past four years have been particularly benefcial to New York, saving Empire State residents a total of $36 billion through 2004. However, as documented in this report, New Yorkers are also being hit harder than most Americans by what’s been called “the most serious problem faced by federal taxpayers” — the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

Getting More Bang for CFE Bucks | Reports

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision ordering more than $5 billion a year in additional spending on New York City schools is likely to have little effect on student achievement in the city. Because lack of money is not a primary explanation for the city’s low student performance, additional money by itself will do little to improve the situation.

“Excelsior” or Bust? by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

New York State spending has increased faster during the four fiscal years since the latest economic downturn began in 2001 than during a comparable recession and recovery period in the early 1990s.

Spending Still Rising In State Budget by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

State funds spending would rise at twice the inflation rate under Governor Pataki's proposed 2005-06 Executive Budget. And despite much-ballyhooed "cuts," state-funded Medicaid costs next year would increase nearly 13 percent.

City Spending Accelerates by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

City-funded spending would increase almost 10 percent under New York's newly adopted budget for fiscal 2005. The budget's financing structure, which relies heavily on prior-year surplus and one-shot revenues, sets the stage for a looming shortfall in fiscal 2006.

No Strings Attached? Ensuring that “CFE” Funds are Spent Effectively | Reports

The 2003 New York State Court of Appeals ruling in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case has created a historic opportunity to reform New York City’s troubled schools. This opening was created because the court not only required changing the state aid formula to ensure a “sound basic education” for all New York City pupils, it also ordered that city schools be accountable for actually producing results.

The Legislature’s Spurious Budget Reform by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

A “budget reform” measure partially approved by the New York State Senate and Assembly is little more than a constitutional power grab by the Legislature and a prescription for higher spending.

The Cloud Behind the Silver Lining by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

The projected "out-year" gap in Mayor Bloomberg's proposed 2005 budget is the largest on record, leaving New York's finances extremely vulnerable to external shocks in the year ahead. City spending is now growing at an unsustainable pace; as a result, barring another boom on the late 1990s scale, Bloomberg could feel increasingly pressed to reduce spending as he approaches the next mayoral election.

NY State Government: Growing Beyond Its Means by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

New York State spending has outpaced inflation even as tax receipts plummeted since 2001. The state budget is on track to continue growing at twice the inflation rate over next several years—resulting in large projected future budget gaps, and raising the specter of expanded tax hikes."

CSEA Contract Will Cost Taxpayers Plenty by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

A tentative contract agreement between Governor George Pataki and New York’s largest union of state government workers would permanently add billions of dollars to New York State and New York City budgets, if it is ratified by union membership and ends up setting a pattern for the state’s other collective bargaining units.