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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
This paper provides an Empire State perspective on federal income tax cuts enacted since 2001. It estimates the resulting decrease in New Yorkers’ tax payments and describes the implications for New York of proposed future changes in federal tax policy.
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.
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.
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 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.
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."
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.