Tag Archives: 2021 New York City Mayoral election

DeBlasio’s Last New York City Budget: He Predicts Even More Inequality and Gentrification, or Else NYC is Toast, Because Those Cashing in And Moving Out Will Take More Off the Top No Matter What

Mayor Bill DeBlasio released his last budget recently, and it assumes that pre-pandemic trends will continue.  The rich will continue to get richer and the stock market bubble will continue to inflate, thanks to the federal government doing whatever it takes, regardless of the long-term cost, to prevent asset prices from going down.  Despite higher and higher taxes, the rich will stay in New York City and just keep paying.  So will hundreds of thousands of young adults, who will continue to live in less and less space for higher and higher rents and accept higher taxes, fees and fares and diminished public services, including crowding and unreliable service on the subways no elected official is in charge of.  More and more economic activity and educated workers will be concentrated in New York City compared with the suburbs, and in metro New York compared with the rest of the country.

All this will offset the extent to which DeBlasio’s (and all the other NY politicians) public union and contractor supporters will continue to get richer and richer, compared with other workers.   Other workers whose lower pay will keep the cost of living down for public workers and retirees, as the overall inflation rate remains below the long-term trend.  Based on these assumptions, the total city budget will grow more slowly than the total personal income of NYC residents over the long term.  Even if the average New Yorker continues to become worse off, because there will be more and more working adults.

But if that is what has happened, and will continue to happen, then why have NY’s state and local taxes been increased, over and over, and risen as a percent of personal income?  Instead of falling.  Why are debts continually increasing, and with interest payments rising as a share of city residents’ personal income despite rock bottom interest rates (also assumed to be permanent)?   Instead of debts being paid down.  Why does the Mayor plan to hand early retirement deals to city workers age 55 and over yet again, to “prevent layoffs,” after having already agreed to no-layoff guarantees? And why, in this Mayoral campaign, is no one asking questions about any of this – in the place with the highest state and local tax burden in the country, where the media is full of claims that we deserve even less in return because we aren’t paying enough – notably by the police and teachers?

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Background and Databases: 2017 Census of Governments Finance Data

The coronavirus has accelerated a reckoning for U.S. state and local governments that had been building up for 25 years, and the consequences, which would have gradually become terrible anyway, will be severe.  Those public officials who made, and benefitted from, the past decisions that will lead to a future of higher taxes, diminished services, and deteriorating infrastructure will eventually leave the scene, perhaps soon.  Their replacements, faced with a crisis and the need to inflict pain on their constituents, might wonder how their community ended up in this situation?  How does their state or locality’s tax burden, in total and by type of tax, and spending, by government function, compare with other places, and how has that changed over time?  Who, compared with other places and compared with the past, has been taking out too much, and/or putting in too little? And to what extent would, should, and could later-born and future residents, who got no related benefits, be sacrificed to pay for the self-dealing of the past?

I have been using data from the Governments Division of the U.S. Census Bureau, and other data sources, to answer questions like these for the past 30+ years.  Including the Census of Governments, which takes place every five years, with the latest data for FY 2017 released late in 2019.   While revised data will be released at some point in 2020, given the coronavirus crisis I have decided to compile and analyze that which is now available.  This, the first of a series of posts, will describe where the data comes from and how I tabulated it.  It includes downloadable spreadsheets with data on state and local government revenues and expenditures, by category, per $1,000 of the personal income of everyone in each area, for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  And data for all local governments combined in each county in New York and New Jersey, and many other selected counties around the country chosen for comparison.  Not only for FY 2017, but also – identically – for FY 2007 and FY 1997, for a 20-year trend.

Subsequent posts will include tables, charts and specific analyses of taxes, other revenues, local government education, state government colleges and universities, public safety, health and social services, infrastructure and amenities, and general government.  But as is my custom I’m making the data available up front, so anyone can download it, look at it, and make up their own mind before getting my take on it. My focus is New York and New Jersey, but there is far more in the spreadsheets linked from this post than I intend analyze on an avocational basis. And anyone could have this data to think about themselves, and have it right now.

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