Perhaps the most important reason that New York’s state and local tax burden is so high, as discussed here,
is that its public school spending is high as well. High not only per student, but also per $1,000 of state residents’ income, the income they must use to pay for those public schools. High not only compared with the U.S. average but also with adjacent states in the Northeast. High not only in affluent suburbs, but also just about elsewhere in the state.
The U.S. averaged $40.76 in elementary and secondary school spending per $1,000 of personal income in FY 2012, according to the Census of Governments from the U.S. Census Bureau. The New York State average was $52.38, which ranked fourth even though New York City’s teacher pension contributions, which are considerable, are excluded from the calculation. The states with higher spending as a share of their residents’ income were Alaska and Wyoming, where high spending is funded by oil, gas and mineral extraction taxes rather than other businesses and residents, and (barely) Vermont. The teachers’ union calls New York State’s schools “underfunded.” That means that if any of the other states decided to fund a huge school spending increase funded by big tax increase, like New York City over the past 15 years, it would still face claims that the schools had limited obligations because spending wasn’t high enough. Continue reading