"A quick tribute to the Citizens Budget Commission....you're a great model of public policy institutions like this across the country; no more important time than today for this kind of work." Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
A recent report, made available online by the New York City Independent Budget Office, offers important insights into New York City’s municipal workforce. The workforce is aging, with more than -one-third eligible for retirement by 2017. City leaders need to think boldly about how best to reconfigure the City’s compensation and hiring practices to attract a young and skilled workforce in coming years.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s fiscal year 2014-15 Executive Budget proposes to increase total education aid from $21.1 billion to $21.9 billion, a change of $807 million or 3.8 percent from school year 2013-14. Of the total increase $100 million is for universal prekindergarten expansion, $79 million is for unspecified uses and $25 million funds performance grants for teachers and school districts.
On January 21 Governor Andrew Cuomo presented a $142.1 billion fiscal year 2015 Executive Budget. One of its the most anticipated features – previewed at the State of the State address two weeks ago – was a projected $2 billion annual surplus beginning in fiscal year 2016-17. This surplus is achieved only if growth in state operating fund spending (total spending excluding capital funds and federal aid) is held at 2 percent or less.
Governor Cuomo has stated the $2 billion in tax cuts he proposed in his State of the State address on January 8 can be paid for with surplus funds that will become available in fiscal year 2016-17 if State Operating Funds disbursements can be held to an annual growth rate of no more than 2 percent and receipts grow as projected. With school aid and Medicaid – the two largest items in the state budget – growing at annual rates at or above 4 percent under separate statutory caps, all other categories of spending, including agency operations, will face offsetting reductions to the plan if the net increase in overall state spending is to be kept to 2 percent.
The report from the State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission released yesterday contains many smart proposals and deserves serious study by the Governor and the Legislature. Two ideas in particular are especially worthwhile – reducing exemptions from the sales tax and reforming business tax incentives.
In the past two weeks the State Comptroller released the office’s annual review of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) financial outlook and the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” featured four contributions addressing “Is there any hope for NYC Transit?” The mix of fact and opinion in these writings may leave many readers more confused than enlightened.
Today the members of the Financial Control Board (FCB) will meet to certify New York City’s Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year 2014 is balanced. As the FCB mentions in its report, the 2014 budget is balanced with $2.8 billion in surplus funds from fiscal year 2013 and $1 billion withdrawn from the Retiree Health Benefits Insurance Trust Fund.
An important agenda item for the final week of the New York State legislative session will be whether and how to extend the law, expiring July 1, that permits police, firefighters and other unionized law enforcement officials to resolve labor contract impasses through binding arbitration. Rather than renewing the statute as a matter of routine, as has occurred for decades, State leaders should amend the statute to address its key weakness: inadequate consideration of the fiscal condition of State and local governments.
In 2011 per pupil education spending nationwide fell 0.4%. In New York, however, per pupil spending increased 2.5% from $18,618 to $19,076, fully 81% above the national average and placing it at the top of the spending list for all 50 states.
These two vital questions about New York City’s capital budget are not being addressed by the mayoral candidates. Although the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy served as a sharp reminder of the importance of public infrastructure and long-term capital planning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Ten-Year Capital Strategy, a plan for $54 billion in infrastructure investments, has received little attention since its release a few weeks ago with the Executive Budget.