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).

The High Cost of Educational “Adequacy” by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

New York State needs to spend $7 billion more to finance a “sound, basic education” for all pupils, according to the group that successfully sued to overturn the state’s education finance system. What kind of tax hike would it take to pay for such a draconian solution? This memo explores the range of possible answers to that question.

Private Competition for Public Services: Unfinished Agenda in New York State | Reports

The benefits of opening public services to private competition—in terms of cost savings and quality—are potentially enormous, as George Pataki recognized when he first took office as Governor nearly a decade ago. Despite Governor Pataki’s early advocacy, however, competitive contracting has not taken root as the preferred approach to providing public services in New York. Given the dimensions of the state’s current fiscal crisis, there’s never been a better time for the Governor to pursue his original agenda by allowing private providers to challenge New York’s entrenched public-sector monopolies.

Tax Hike Gouges NYC Metro Region by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

Households in the New York City metropolitan area will account for nearly 90 percent of the added state income taxes that New York State residents will pay to help finance spending increases in the 2003-04 state budget, assuming the Legislature overrides Governor Pataki's expected veto.

How To Save Another $1 Billion by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

Instead of imposing higher taxes on an struggling economy, New York State legislators should be looking for more ways to save money in the $59 billion state funds budget Governor Pataki has proposed. Here's a by-no-means exhaustive list of eight cost-cutting steps that would add up to over $1 billion next year.

Deja Vu All Over Again: The Right Way to Cure New York’s Looming Budget Gap | Reports

This report analyzes New York State government’s fiscal history over the last three and a half decades, with a particular focus on Governor Pataki’s accomplishments. It finds that fiscal crises are always preceded by periods of higher-than-normal spending, and that reducing spending is the only successful way to solve a crisis. Tax increases, such as those passed in the early 1970s and 1990s, exacerbate crises by reducing economic activity.

Will More Ever Be Enough? New York City’s Skyrocketing School Spending by E.J. McMahon | | NY Torch

New York City's new schools chancellor, Joel Klein, kicked off his introductory news conference with the observation that ‘resources are scarce.’ True enough—although you wouldn't know it from looking at the Board of Education's budget for 2002-03. Even after the latest round of budget cuts ordered by Mayor Bloomberg, spending will keep pace with inflation. And adjusting for cost-of-living changes, per-pupil expenditures are up 57 percent since 1983.