Tag Archives: new york state budget

Term Limits: Impact On The Operation of New York’s Governing Bodies

During my Don Quixote protest campaign against the state legislature back in 2004, the only member of the media who paid attention to what I was trying to say was Erik Engquist, then of the Courier Life papers, now with Crain’s New York Business.   But he didn’t quite get it right. In one column, he said I was someone who cared deeply about the process of government. I e-mailed him and said that to be honest, like most people I never really cared about or paid attention to the process, I only cared about the results. He wrote back and said while that may be so, unless New York gets a better process, it isn’t going to get any better results.

This is the third and last post in a series on New York City’s double-blind experiment with democracy – a City Council that has term limits, and a state legislature that does not. In the first, I noted that thanks to term limits and public campaign financing there are actual elections for the City Council every eight years, with the would-be members forced to pay attention to the general public, whereas in the state legislature competitive contest elections almost never happen.


In the second I examined the personal and professional background of the City Council and state legislature members, and found less difference than I would have supposed, due in part to a surprisingly large amount of recent turnover in the State Assembly, and due in part to the fact that ordinary citizens cannot, or do not, run for office.


This is post is not about who the members are or how they get there, but what they do when they arrive. With regard to corruption, transparency, and the value they place on the common future, the one interest all of us (other than the most selfish seniors) share.

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Bureaucracy: Census of Governments Data

This post will complete my series on different government functions based on finance data from the 2012 Census of Governments, a more long-term analysis aside. It includes data on the most governmental of government functions: the kind of activities one might expect to find taking place in city and town halls, county seats, county courthouses, and state capitals. Reviewing applications, keeping records and doing inspections, rather than providing services. The functions included are, as delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau, Judicial and Legal, Financial Administration, Inspection & Regulation, Central Staff, General Public Buildings and, at the state level, Social Insurance Administration (state Departments of Labor). I have grouped them under the title “Bureaucracy.”

When I first started compiling Governments Division data from the Census of Governments, I noted that the cost of New York’s state and local government bureaucracy per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income was about average. So was its bureaucratic employment level per 100,000 residents. In addition the cost and employment level of local government bureaucracy was about the same in different parts of New York State, broadly defined. All that made it much less interesting. There are some differences, however, and in any event I want this compilation to be comprehensive. And besides, if you add them all up at both the state and local level the cost of these government functions is substantial. In New York State it averages about 1.7% of all of the personal income of all state residents not including, in many cases, employee benefits and pensions. A brief discussion follows.

Note:  this post based on data from the 2012 Census of Governments has been updated by a new post based on the 2017 Census of Governments, which should be read instead.


The older post as written continues below.

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