"...a group that has such a long and distinguished record in identifying and addressing crucial issues affecting the governments of the city and state of New York." Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
Last week, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer issued a report introducing an important new tool: ClaimStat. The innovation is a data-based method for analyzing judgments and claims against the City of New York in order to identify ways to reduce their cost.
Last week, as the MTA board approved a budget that funded a generous contract for LIRR workers, the GAO released a report indicating the federal agency administering disability pensions for those workers had not done enough to prevent a repeat of a widespread fraud scheme by LIRR employees uncovered in 2008.
Just over one year ago, on July 16, 2013, the Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) sent the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) a letter with recommendations for improving the Authority’s budget process, with the goals of greater transparency, long-term financial viability, and public accountability for performance.
Today is the first day of fiscal year 2015. New York City’s $75 billion budget is the first to be crafted by Mayor Bill de Blasio and adopted by the City Council under Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s leadership. This blog post examines what’s new in the fiscal year 2015 budget and makes recommendations for steering the City’s finances over the next four years.
As the New York City budget for fiscal year 2015 nears adoption, the City Council is negotiating with the Mayor to secure funding for its priorities, such as universal school lunches, legal services for evictees, and increased support for public libraries. One of the more expensive Council initiatives, at an estimated cost of almost $100 million annually, is the hiring of 1,000 new police officers to increase staffing at police precincts.
Last week five bills on CBC’s Benefit Sweetener Scorecard passed one house of the State Legislature. The most expensive bill (A7862/S5644) was passed in the Senate and would increase pension benefits for SUNY police officers to half-pay after 25 years.
A bill moving swiftly through the Legislature would reverse recent pension reforms and greatly increase New York City’s pension fund contribution costs. The bill, A9594/S7326, would increase disability pension benefits for police officers hired after July 1, 2009, when a more financially sustainable “Tier III” plan went into effect.
New U.S. Census data show New York maintained its position as the top per-pupil spender among states on public elementary-secondary education in 2012. New York spent $19,552 per student, compared to $10,608 on average nationally, and $16,274 and $17,266 on average in the neighboring states of Connecticut and New Jersey, respectively.
New York State’s leaders deserve credit for keeping state-financed budget growth below a self-imposed 2 percent spending cap since fiscal year 2011, a sharp departure from historical norms. The discipline has markedly improved the State’s fiscal condition and spurred key reforms in Medicaid and State operations.