Category Archives: new york state legislature corruption, dean skelos, sheldon silver

Local Government Employment in New York: Annual Average Data for 2016

About a month ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released 2016 annual average employment data from the monthly Current Employment Survey. It isn’t the most detailed information with regard to local government, but it is the most timely, so I once again put together a series of charts showing the trends.

The data shows that after a period of austerity, local government employment is rising again in New York State. The increases are not large, and in New York City local government employment is still rising more slowly than private sector employment. But in the Rest of New York State the increase in the ratio of private employment to local government has halted. Moreover, elementary and secondary school employment, which soared in the Rest of New York State under former Governor George Pataki’s “everybody onto the payroll to get a pension” policies, is rising again despite (at least according to the latest data I’ve seen) falling school enrollment. And in New York City, private sector (but presumably mostly Medicaid-funded) home health care employment has soared at a pace and to a level that raises questions about what the heck is going on.

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Public School Finance in the Bloomberg Years: A Detailed, Comprehensive Analysis for NYC and Elsewhere

From FY 2002, the last NYC budget before Mike Bloomberg became Mayor, to FY 2014, the last budget of his Mayoralty, New York City’s public school expenditures per student increased by 38.4% in real dollars (adjusted for inflation and for relative private sector wages that year). That is a huge increase in spending on the most expensive public service there is, during a decade when the pay of most private sector workers fell behind inflation. The U.S. average gain in public school spending per student was 3.8%. During the Bloomberg years NYC’s spending on instructional (mostly teachers) compensation per student increased 49.3%, including a 22.4% increase in wages and salaries and 125.0% (more than doubling) on benefits, including pensions. The U.S. average gains were 6.3% for total compensation and 43.9% for benefits, with a 2.4% decrease in instructional wages and salaries per student.

And yet at the end of this period, during the 2013 campaign for Mayor, every candidate but one said either that the schools were no better, or perhaps worse, than they had been before “Education Mayor” Bloomberg and the shift to Mayoral control. Most so-called education advocates agreed. The United Federation of Teachers, which funds many of those advocates, demanded even more money for its members, in exchange for less time spent working with students, and lower expectations as to their level of effort. And got it. And yet there is still extensive resentment, by many of those speaking for those working in education in NYC, toward the people and children of the city. A feeling that they are still being treated unfairly and deserve even more. But is that true? And what was actually received in exchange for all that additional money?

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NYC Subway Service: AM Peak Hour In 1954 and 2014

After years of soaring ridership, the NYC subway has reached the level of patronage that it had immediately after WWII, before the onset of mass automobile ownership. According to the MTA…

http://web.mta.info/nyct/facts/ffsubway.htm

in 2014 annual subway ridership was at the highest level since 1948, at 1.75 billion rides. At first rising ridership was an unmitigated benefit. Through the 1960s and 1970s, as the subway deteriorated, people only used it when they had to – to travel to and from work in Manhattan in the AM and PM peak. As annual ridership fell below 1 billion the system ran mostly empty the rest of the time, a cost without revenue – and a security risk for those still on the trains. As new people started moving to New York City precisely because they wanted to be able to use mass transit and walk to things rather than drive, however, off peak ridership recovered, filling the once empty trains and allowing the system to carry more people without more service.

In the past year or two, however, the system has hit the wall. Suddenly it has become severely overcrowded, causing increasing discomfort, delay and unreliability. Personally I find riding the subway to be a worse experience than it has been since the 1980s, when track fires, track failures, and trains out of service were common, doors kept breaking, and lights flickered on and off. For more than a year, therefore, I’ve been searching for evidence of what the level of subway service used to be, back when ridership was last this high. And now I may have found it, and can show that the subway system is squeezing more riders into fewer trains and subway cars. Subway riders, it seems, have it worse than 60 years ago.

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Capone on Tax Evasion Rather Than Murder

What can one say? According to something that came in the mail, we are up to 33 New York State legislators convicted of corruption since 2000. Generally in federal cases, since the New York State prosecutors don’t seem to be all that interested in pursuing members of their own caste. That sounds terrible, but the reality is far worse. Assembly Speaker Silver was convicted of getting $4 million in kickbacks. State Senate Majority Leader Skelos was convicted of extorting non-show jobs for his lazy son. Most of the other legislators previously caught in scandal have been involved in similar, even more petty acts of personal banal venality. That isn’t good, but its effect on my life, my children, my neighbors, my community is limited.

What matters more is this. We New Yorkers are hit with the highest state and local tax burden in the country, low population states with high mineral extraction revenues excepted. And yet we have enormous unmet public needs, from second rate schools with large class sizes to untended homeless in the streets to overcrowded trains. And to top it off, all of this is bound to get worse as a result of inadequate past infrastructure investment, huge public debts, and underfunded and retroactively enhanced pensions. And public unions, contractors, and powerful interests seeking tax breaks that keep demanding – and getting – more and more in exchange for less and less. It is this that they are truly guilty of. Not just those convicted on these petty charges, but all of them. All of them, including former Governor Pataki, former Governor Spitzer, and former legislators now serving in other offices such as Borough President or City and State Comptroller.

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