The folks at State of Politics, one of the state’s top political blogs, posted an interesting interview with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli yesterday.
During the interview, the comptroller spoke out against the “vilification” of public employees. Unshackle Upstate has long asserted that there is no issue with state workers. Indeed, they perform valuable services for the state and are taxpayers just like you and I. Public employees aren’t the culprits behind skyrocketing property taxes and an underfunded pension that’s set to rapidly grow over the next five years. But no one can argue that the leadership of these unions have caused employment levels at the state and local levels to become bloated and as a result, we are seeing uncontrolled spikes in pension costs and property taxes. The reality is that the “golden goose” – taxpayer funded jobs and pensions – is bleeding to death.
Take a look at these frightening, yet true statistics:
- New York State’s local taxes are the highest in America – 79% above the national average.
- When property taxes are measured as a percentage of home value, the top sixteen counties in the nation are all in New York State.
- Over the next five years, tax-funded annual contributions to the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS) will more than quadruple, while contributions to the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) will more than double.
- NYSTRS and NYSLRS are “fully funded” by government actuarial standards, but some estimate they have combined funding shortfalls of $120 billion when their liabilities are measured using private-sector accounting rules.
Rather than talk about villains, we need heroes to step up and help save our state. It’s time for New York’s best and brightest minds – from the private and public sectors – to collaboratively develop and implement real solutions to our state’s fiscal crisis. For starters, the legislature should enact a 2 percent tax cap as outlined by Governor Cuomo.
The time for action on a property tax cap and other critical issues such as state spending and mandate relief is NOW. We look forward to seeing how the comptroller, governor, and members of the legislature will tackle these difficult challenges.