Today is tax day! Not a happy point in time for some people that have to pay both federal and state taxes. And of course, that makes me want to talk about a tax that many of us pay…property taxes.
Nearly everywhere I travel, I hear New Yorkers talk about their frustration with property tax rates that increase year after year. Seems they can’t understand why, if enrollment is going down in most schools, school spending continues to go up.
You can see some of those recent school budget announcements at:
So why is this happening? There are many complex factors that go into the answer, including unfunded mandates that the federal and state government impose on schools. But one of the biggest cost drivers, at somewhere between 65-80% of most school district budgets, are expenses related to labor, including salaries and benefits. The logical question: Why doesn’t the school administration lower those labor related costs? Simple answer: They can’t – because of two laws unique to New York state.
What are those laws you ask? Click here to learn more.
The most frustrating part for me is that those labor costs don’t need to be reason for increased class sizes or reductions in sports programs. We can help school districts and other public employers take back control over their budget and spend where they think they need to spend. But to do that, we need our elected officials…all of them from the Governor to the Senate and Assembly…to do the right thing and fix these antiquated laws. But I question whether they have the courage to do that.
Clearly the results of the Mandate Relief and Redesign Team didn’t offer the solution. What New York needs now, more than ever, is to address once and for all the root cause of unnecessary spending increases at the state and local level. That includes taking on issues and laws that have been favored by organized labor. That includes taking on issues and laws that elected officials themselves benefit from (read that as pensions).
Bottom line: Tell our elected officials “It is Time to Deliver” on their campaign promises of controlling spending and bringing down our taxes. Tell them It’s Time to Deliver to the residents of New York a state that we can proudly continue to call home.