Tag Archives: new york state local government finance

Census Education Finance Data for FY 2014 (Compared with FY 2002)

The Census Bureau’s annual education finance data was released for FY 2014 on Friday June 11. The data shows that NYC spent $24,004 per student that year, slightly below the average of the Downstate Suburbs ($25,041) but far higher than the average for New Jersey ($19,636), Connecticut ($19,388), Massachusetts ($16,884) and Maryland ($15,812).   The Northeast Corridor is a generally high wage, high cost of living area. Even adjusting for this, however, New York City’s average adjusted expenditure per student, at $18,764, was nearly 50 percent higher than the U.S. average of $12,625. On an unadjusted basis New York City spent $14,665 per student on instructional (mostly teacher) wages, salaries and benefits alone, or $293,300 per 20 students and $175,980 per 12 students. And this was at a time when the contract for NYC teachers had been expired for years; spending has soared since, as a result of retroactive pay for past years including FY 2014.

One finds the same pattern for Upstate New York. There, spending averaged $19,428 per student in urban counties and $20,490 per student in rural counties. This compares with the U.S. average of $12,625, the Ohio average of $12,907, and the Pennsylvania average of $16,585, and the Vermont average of $20,488. Links to detailed spreadsheets with data for every school district in New York and New Jersey, and per-student revenues and expenditures by category of revenue and expenditure, follow a discussion of where the data comes from and how it was compiled. As is my custom, I’m going to provide the spreadsheets now, think about them for a while, and then provide my analysis and express my opinion. If you want the facts without the opinion, this is the post for you.

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New York City’s FY 2017 Budget Proposal: Change from the Recent Past

One of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s best innovations, from a truth telling point of view, was the introduction of a table in NYC budget documents that shows how much different government functions actually cost us. By allocating pension, fringe benefit and debt service costs to the different agencies. And by deducting federal and state aid that merely passed through the city’s budget, allowing everyone to see the money the city actually has to pay for in local taxes and fees for different functions. With a New York Democratic Administration coming back in, with an assumed attitude that what the serfs don’t know they don’t deserve to know, I wondered how far it would dare to go to restore the prior level of obfuscation.

The answer is that the Bloomberg table remains for the proposed budget, if in a stripped down format. But the identical tables for the prior fiscal year or two, and the change between the prior fiscal year and the current one, and the current one and the budget proposal, have been removed. So there is no longer an easy way to see what is changing. And yet the budget documents from prior fiscal years are still up on the website of the city’s Office of Management and Budget. Someone is apparently counting on the unwillingness of the City Hall press core and various pundits to type the data from the tables – only available in PDF format — into a spreadsheet, check it once or twice, and examine the results.   I did so, however, and found that according to the Mayor’s optimistic estimate of NYC residents’ personal income in FY 2017, it will have increased 14.5% (adjusted for inflation) from FY 2007. And according to the Mayor’s budget proposal, NYC spending will have increased 23.8%, and city-funded spending will have increased by 29.9%.

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State and Local Government Employment: Census Bureau Data for FY 2014 Compared With FY 2002

In 2014 and 2015, I compiled extensive data, and published a bunch of posts, based on Census of Governments data from the U.S. Census Bureau.   One can find that data on this page.

https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/the-latest-public-finance-spreadsheets/

While Bureau only conducts a Census of Governments every five years, it conducts surveys of state and local government employment and finances every year. The survey size is generally large enough to produce estimates of the totals for the U.S. and all the states, except for some years when budget cuts prevented the work from being done. This year data for FY 2014 will be made available, and I intend to compile it for comparison with FY 2002.

The first analysis, based on recently-released data on state and local government employment and payroll, is described below. As is my custom, while the spreadsheet with the tables is linked at the end of this post, my analysis and understanding of what it means will be presented in a later post. What I’d like is for people to read the background information presented below, download the spreadsheet, look at the tables, and make up their own minds before reading what I have to say about it.

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Parks, Culture, Libraries, Vices and Oddities: Census of Governments Data

For twenty years it was the same dance. The Mayor would play the bad guy and propose a budget that would threaten cuts in funding for the Department of Parks and the Department of Libraries, knowing full well the city would have enough money to restore the cuts. This would allow the parochial members of the City Council to “fight for the people” to get the money back for THEIR constituents. In exchange for the Mayor being able to make all the serious decisions, with both winners and losers, that the Council members sought to avoid.

Then incoming Mayor DeBlasio promised to end the old game, to the delight of Parks and Libraries advocates. After which the City Council, desperate for organized interests to pander to, demanded the addition of 1,000 more police officers, even though New York City already has 2.8 times as many police officers per 100,000 residents as the U.S. average, and far more than that in retirement. So one year later, from what I read in the media, a sadder but wiser Mayor DeBlasio has brought back the same old game. Amidst all the politicking what does the City of New York, and for that matter the State of New York, spend on Parks, Recreation, Culture and Libraries compared with other places? The next post uses Census of Governments data to find out.

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State Government Higher Education Expenditures: Census of Governments Data

The news media has reported that more and more students are priced out of college or going deep in debt to pay for it, diminishing their prospects for the rest of their lives. Higher education debts have been blamed for constricted career choices and deferred homeownership, marriage and parenting. Based on that reporting, the story I had prepared to tell was that soaring tuition at private colleges may be explained by an arms race for extraneous amenities, extra administrators and increasingly cosseted faculty. But in public higher education, which accounted for 73.1% of higher education enrollment in 2012, cutbacks in taxpayer subsidies are the greater factor.

This is the story told by the public colleges and universities themselves. According to a recent report from Demos cited here,

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/government-cuts-to-blame-for-skyrocketing-tuition-says-report-2015-05-05

“Cuts to higher education funding by state governments accounted for 79% of tuition increases at public research universities between 2001 and 2011 and 78% of the growth in college costs at public bachelor’s and master’s universities.” “Some have argued that universities’ penchant for hiring more administrators and constructing more buildings are the primary culprits behind skyrocketing tuition” according to this source. “While this so-called administrative bloat is an issue worth some attention, the report argues that it hasn’t played as large a role in tuition hikes as state funding cuts or the rising cost of health care for university employees.”

The data is a bit more complicated.

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Overview of State and Local Government Expenditures: Census of Governments Data

Services have been cut. In public schools, class sizes have been increased and after school activities curtailed in New York City and across the country. Mass transit is increasingly crowded and unreliable. There are far more potholes in the road than there once were. In many places, when someone has a mental health emergency, there is no one to call but the police. With all this happening, one might assume that state and local government expenditures are going down.

But it isn’t so everywhere. Data from the 1992, 2002 and 2012 Census of Governments shows that state and local expenditures in the latter year equaled a higher share of everyone’s personal income than a couple of decades earlier, if taxpayer pension contributions are included. In New York City, in fact, the combination of direct local government spending, an allocated share of direct state government spending, and taxpayer pension contributions totaled 30.5% of city residents personal income in FY 2012. Direct federal government spending would be on top of that. What has happened is not a decline in spending, but rather a shift in spending. This overview will discuss that shift, which will be examined in detail in subsequent posts on specific government functions.

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