Category Archives: state tax burden

The Sold Out Future By State Analysis Reprised

About a year ago I published an analysis based on U.S. Census Bureau government finances data, for all states and all available years from 1972 to 2016, that showed the extent to which each state’s future (with New York City and the rest of NY State analyzed separately, and the District of Columbia also included) has been sold out. Sold out by past decisions, non-decisions, deals and favors with regard to state and local government debt, past infrastructure investment, and under funded and/or retroactively increased public employee pensions.  The analysis was well received, and best of all many people downloaded the spreadsheet with all the data for all 50 states, all the tables, and almost all of the charts.  I always put up a post encouraging people to download the spreadsheets, look at the data themselves, and make up their own minds before reading my subsequent posts and getting my take on it. Generally people had downloaded charts, but not spreadsheets.  Last year that changed.

What I had forgotten last year, however, but have since remembered, is the multi-step process needed to put readable tables, in JPEG format, into the posts on WordPress.   So this year I added the tables to the posts I just completed on state and local government employment and payroll data from the 2017 Census of Governments, and I found that many people had downloaded them.  I don’t know why some people might prefer pictures of numbers to actual numbers, but apparently some people do.  So I plan to rectify last year’s omission of tables – except for people who downloaded the spreadsheet — from the Sold Out Futures posts with a brief reprise.   The data shows that while the blame for our sold out future is widely shared, New York City’s past taxpayers are the most the most blameless in the entire United States.  And New York City’s public employee unions and contractors have been the most unfair to other city residents.  And nowhere else is even close.

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The Amazon HQ2 Deal and New York’s Falling Tax Revenues: The Unsaid

In the past few weeks a sharp decrease in New York City and New York State income tax revenues, and the decision of Amazon to not locate half its H2Q in Long Island City, Queens, have been very much in the news.  Many people have said and written many things about them.  Here is what has not been said.

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Will Connecticut’s Ned Lamont Be the First To Tell The Truth about Generation Greed?

Coming into office eight years ago, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy faced a fiscal disaster, following decades of shortsighted but popular policies that robbed the future.  He raised some taxes and cut some services, but mostly kicked the can with borrowing and deferred pension contributions shifted further into the future, and pursued an agenda based on traditional Democratic tribal issues such as guns, gays, immigration and marijuana.   (Republican Generation Greed politicians use the same misdirection).  Since the majority of Connecticut residents don’t follow state and local government closely, however, Malloy received all the blame for all that had gone before.  As a result he was barely re-elected to a second term, and is leaving office as one of the most despised politicians in the country.

Coming into office today, Connecticut Governor-elect Ned Lamont also faces a fiscal disaster, this time at the peak of an economic cycle rather than in a deep recession.  A fiscal disaster that is certain to get even worse when the next recession hits and the stock market corrects to something like fair value. At some point he will either have to raise taxes, cut services, and perhaps tell his public employee union supporters that they have to give up more to get back in solidarity with their fellow state residents.  And be blamed for all of the above.  Or hope that state residents have gotten used to how bad things are under Malloy, kick the can a little further, and try to sneak into a second term before the additional bills come due.  And then leave office as despised as Malloy and former New Jersey Governor Christie.

But there is a third option.  Interested Ned?

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Census Bureau Public School Finance Data: FY 1996 vs. FY 2016 for New York City, Other School Districts in NY State, and Other Areas

The Census Bureau slipped its data on public school finance out in late May.

https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/school-finances.html

There was no press release or PDF report, but if you click on 2016 tables at the top and then “Summary Tables,” you can find all the spreadsheets the Bureau previously released in PDF format.   Including, crucially, Table 12 (tabs on the bottom), which ranks states according to their school revenues and expenditures per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income (which adjusts for the state average cost of living and average age and the ability of state taxpayers to pay).  And Table 18, which provides per pupil revenues and expenditures for the 100 largest school districts, including the most expensive by a mile, New York City.  As in the past, I’ve downloaded and compiled more detailed data for every school district in New York State and New Jersey, the U.S. average, the averages for selected other states, and selected school districts elsewhere.  And tabulated revenues and expenditures per student by category for FY 2016 and FY 1996 — with an adjustment for the higher average wage in the high-cost of living Northeast Corridor.

I’ve been holding onto the data for a month, re-downloading and checking it against other sources, because New York City’s expenditures and staffing levels had become so extreme that I can hardly believe it.   Especially since it would be much higher today, in FY 2019.  And because Mayor Bill DeBlasio, candidate for Governor Cynthia Nixon, and a lawsuit from a group backed by the United Federation of Teachers claim that New York City school funding is inadequate, with the schools “cheated out of $billions.” How high was it?  Take a look.

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Health Care and Social Services: Census Bureau Public Employment and Payroll Data for March 2016 and March 2006 (And Related Private Employment)

For more than a century, the City of New York and State of New York have provided more health care and social services for city and state residents than the U.S. average, and employed more state and local government workers and paid for more workers in the non-profit sector to do it.  I had always associated the shift from health and social service provision by slothful, wasteful public agencies to non-profit social service organizations with the failure of the public sector in the wake of the unionization and public pension increases of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when New York City social services became contracted out on a large scale.   But reading Greater Gotham, I find the same issues and institutional battles were repeated in the early 1990s.  In the (actual, original) Progressive era, the shift was from the slothful, wasteful, contracted out services provided by non-profits, religious and political organizations to “more efficient” public agencies.  Basically, it seems any publicly-funded organization, whether public or private, will, in a generation or two, descend into self-dealing.

In March 2016, the City of New York employed 877 full time equivalent local government workers per 100,000 city residents in the Census Bureau’s “Public Welfare,” “Hospitals,” and “Housing and Community Development” functions combined.   (I’ll take about the Public Health function in a later post, because it combines regulation and service provision). That was down from 1,023 FTEs per 100,000 in March 2006.  The U.S. average was 302 local government workers, down from 309, and the Rest of New York State averaged 309, up from 296 but similar to the U.S. as a whole.   New Jersey and Connecticut were lower than average at 148, down from 191, and 91, down from 103, but in these small states there is more employment in these categories at the state government level.  Despite extensive local government health and social services employment, New York City’s 2016 private health care employment, at 5,715 workers per 100,000 residents, exceeded the U.S. average, at 4,737 per 100,000 residents.  And NYC’s private social assistance employment, at 2,142 per 100,000 residents, nearly doubled the U.S. average of 1,108. Unlike local government employment, private, substantially government-funded employment in many industries in these sectors keeps going up.

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New York Local Government Employment: 1990 to 2017

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released annual average Current Employment Survey data for 2017 this week, and rebenchmarked prior data to the latest unemployment insurance tax records, something it does every March.   The news was good for metro New York. Its total employment for December 2017 was 57,600 higher than had been reported prior to the adjustment, and its increase from the prior December was 22,900 greater.   For New York City alone, the December 2017 estimate of total employment was 25,400 higher, and the change over the year was 3,500 greater. The greatest source of error in this data is an unexpected number of jobs in new businesses, since these cannot be surveyed and must be estimated.

With the 2017 data out, I’ve repeated my charts of local government employment for New York City and the rest of New York State. The charts show that prior trends are continuing, with less local government employment relative to private sector employment. Mostly because more and more tax dollars are going to debts and retirement benefits for those no longer working, rather than workers still on the job and producing public services. For that reason New York City faces fiscal issues, and New York State and the MTA face budget deficits, even though New York City has added an incredible 500,000-plus private sector jobs over five years.

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Medicaid by State in 2016: I’ll Take What I Can Get

Some years go the Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS) State Datamart, which I once used to compare New York State with the U.S. average and adjacent states with regard to Medicaid expenditures and beneficiaries, was shut down. The most recent data I tabulated was for 2011.   Now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid has released their new system, T (Transformed) MSIS.

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/data-and-systems/macbis/tmsis/index.html

I spent a long time looking around the site to try to find the data I once used, but was unable. But I was able to find some more recent Medicaid expenditure data by state and type of service here…

https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/financing-and-reimbursement/state-expenditure-reporting/expenditure-reports/index.html

Including 2016. And was able to get some limited data on spending per enrollee from a secondary source.

https://www.kff.org/state-category/medicaid-chip/

So after three and half years, I’ve decided to write an updated, if limited, post about how New York State’s Medicaid expenditures compare with the U.S. average and adjacent states.

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