Labor costs are one of the "big 3" categories of spending, along with school aid and Medicaid, that drive the size of the State budget. Yet Governor Paterson's Executive Budget included an unspecified plan for achieving savings from organized labor - a target of $250 million is included in the financial plan along with a menu of possible options for the labor unions to consider.
Last year, New York State began to phase out the roundly criticized program called Empire Zones. The program doles out a panoply of tax incentives to approximately 10,000 firms, either located in an "Empire Zone" or deemed "regionally significant" in return for a commitment to create or retain jobs and to invest capital in the firm's infrastructure.
It is unlikely that New York State will have a balanced budget in place by the start of the new fiscal year on April 1. Of course timeliness is not the only criteria; quality matters, perhaps more so this year than usual because of the implications of this budget for the next 3-4 years of potentially catastrophic deficits. So where do things stand and where should State leaders go from here?
CBC released a report on New York State's debt burden, which raises serious concerns about the existing levels of debt and comes at a time when the State is considering ways of addressing a budget gap of more than $9 billion.
A comparative analysis of the 50 states indicates that New York's debt burden is in a "danger zone;" it is well above national averages and greater than that of all but three states. As a result New Yorkers are currently paying about $5.6 billion in debt service, and in four years the state's credit card obligation will be over $7.1 billion or one of every ten dollars paid in taxes.