So here is a question that I think I know the answer to, but will ask anyway:
Does the fact that 17 cents out of every tax dollar collected by the state goes to debt service bother you?
I am pretty sure the answer is “YES.” In fact it is probably “HELL YES!” We are a country and state that have for a long time used debt and bonding to cover our bills with a hope that things will get better. Arguably, they have not. Incremental progress is made, but that big debt balloon hangs over our head as a constant reminder of our past practice.
So then let me ask another question. This one is along the same lines:
Does the notion that 17 cents of every property tax dollar collected is needed to cover pension obligations bother you?
Once again, I am pretty sure that the answer is “HELL, YES.” But that is effectively what Comptroller DiNapoli indicated in his NY Daily News Op-Ed . He wrote, “…historically, 83 percent of all pension benefits come from investment returns.” So if my math is correct, then to be fully funded (as we are told it is) the additional 17 percent has to come from employee contributions and/or local government contributions. Makes sense, right?
Here’s the kicker: Whether or not it comes from the employee or the employer, it comes from U.S. As taxpayers, it is our property taxes that cover the cost for the employer, and it is a combination of taxes that pay for the employees.
The comptroller went on the say, “Critics of the current defined-benefit retirement plans for state workers incorrectly assert that New York State’s pension system is financially sound only because of an unlimited amount of taxpayer money.” Well, from my perspective, that is the case. I’ve seen my tax bill go up each year. And the out year projections aren’t looking any better.
Last year, we aggressively pushed for passage of the tax cap. Why? We needed to put an end to the taxpayers always having to foot the bill for poor decisions our elected officials continued to make. Unfunded mandates and antiquated laws have done nothing but stifle our economy and make New York expensive. That needs to stop and one way to help the future is to pass Tier VI now.