Cab Calloway, a fellow Upstater born in scenic Rochester (motto – Made for Leavin’), wrote a song about the greedy and powerful public sector unions strangling my adopted state. He called it Many the Moochers. Well, not really, but were Mr. Calloway still alive today, he could well have done so.
New York’s “three men in a room” government — the execrable head of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, the namby-pamby accidental governor David Patterson and handpicked successor to the nearly indicted former head of the Senate Dean Skelos — recently decided that with 74% of New Yorkers favoring a property tax cap, they’d better get cracking on something.
From this article from the appalling nicknamed Rochester news paper The D&C (Democrat and Chronicle), it appears that our hardworking public officials have determined that the best way to lower property taxes is to continue runaway spending, but to shift more of the burden away from property taxes to income taxes. Way to go, geniuses! Forget about cutting back. Spend more instead, but attempt to hide your profligate ways by shifting the source of the revenue. Those stupid peons we “represent” will never notice, and we can keep our union masters happy.
As noted in the article, New York has the “highest local and state tax burden in the country, a major factor in the state’s population and job losses.” Note, however, that unionized state government jobs (health care, teachers, etc.) are actually growing, unlike the private sector jobs that support them. By way of example, in my part of the state, it is not unusual for a house assessed at $200,000 to pay over $8,000 each year in property taxes. This excludes the state income tax rates of between 4% and 6.85%, and NYC and Yonkers income taxes, if you are fortunate enough to live there. And don’t forget sales tax, which generally is between 7% and 8.75% depending on where you’re shopping.
These taxes all go to support an enormous unionized government workforce that has benefits significantly better than that of the private workers generating the tax revenue to pay these benefits. The New York State Constitution (Art. V, § 7) actually enshrines a right of current workers to their pensions, without change, regardless of the impact of state taxpayers. And who wouldn’t want one of these gold-plated pensions? A Tier 4 (pension classification for most current teachers starting after 1983) can expect after 30 years’ service at age 55, lifetime health care (not yet a Constitution right, but bills are pending to do so) and 60% of the average of the best three years’ salary for life. Guaranteed. This doesn’t count social security and any 403(b) contributions made. Oh, and the state pension is state income tax free (“Your retirement benefit is exempt from New York State income tax”). And New York’s political class can’t figure out why private businesses and residents continue to flee.
Maybe when the last private sector job leaves the state for the greener pastures of lower tax jurisdictions, New York’s politicians will finally come to their senses. But I wouldn’t bet on it.