State budget keeps oinking along by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

Governor Andrew Cuomo eliminated funding of new "member item" spending when he took office four years ago—but the Ghost of Pork Barrels Past continues to haunt the state's finances.

Each of Cuomo's first four Executive Budget proposals projected the depletion and elimination of what's technically known as the "Community Projects Fund - 007" -- but every year, the enacted budget has restored the money to back up reappropriations of the member item lump sum.

NY fuel tax drops — a little by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

The impact of declining crude oil prices, already visible at the gas pump, has now rippled through to New York State’s petroleum business tax (PBT). Effective Jan. 1, the PBT on motor fuel has dropped by a whopping six-tenths of a penny, to 17.8 cents per gallon from 18.4 cents per gallon, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

“Smart” sounded good to 62% by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

Who could be against “smart schools”?

The unsurprising answer: not nearly enough New Yorkers to defeat Proposal 3 on yesterday’s statewide ballot, which authorizes $2 billion in state borrowing to finance local school district purchases of computers and other classroom technology; expand schools’ high-speed and wireless Internet capacity; install “high-tech security features”; and build new classrooms for pre-kindergarten programs.

NY’s latest tax gimmick by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

The second of two Election Eve check-in-the-mailbox tax credit gimmicks concocted by state officials in Albany is unfolding this week.

Most New York State homeowners outside New York City have received or are about to receive a payment equivalent to roughly 2 percent of their 2014-15 school property taxes—which will average roughly $60 upstate to $150 in downstate suburbs. This is on top of the $350 tax credit sent recently to families that had at least one child under 17 as of 2012.

What They Make, 2013-14 by Tim Hoefer & Daniel Russo | | Reports

Local government is a labor-intensive business, and employee compensation is the single biggest element of most municipal budgets. The 2013-14 edition of What They Make, the Empire Center's annual report on public payrolls, allows New York taxpayers to compare this key element of local government costs around the state...

How competitive is NY? (cont’d…) by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

New York State’s relative economic performance wasn’t so hot in the recent past — but its outlook for the future is worse, according to the just-released 7th Annual Rich States, Poor States report, an economic competitiveness index produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).