I am sitting here trying to figure out why Andrew Cuomo deserves a liberal primary challenge. Did he not legalize same sex marriage in New York changing the issue’s momentum nationwide? Was he not one of the few elected officials to pass tough gun control lows in response to Sandy Hook? Could it be because he has provided business incentives in the state? Does his opponent Ms.
As discussed in this post the latest education finance data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that New York’s public school spending per student is sky-high, not only in the suburbs but in Upstate New York and even New York City, even adjusted downward downstate for the higher cost of living here, and even compared with adjacent Northeastern states such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Although you’d never know it by all the propaganda being put out, primarily by the teachers’ union, claiming that New York’s taxpayers and children deserve less because we aren’t paying enough.
To put New York’s spending in even greater perspective, how about a comparison with a state where public school spending in general, and spending on teachers in particular, really is low? Let’s compare New York with right-wing, low-tax Oklahoma. A few charts and commentary may be found on “Saying the Unsaid In New York.”
The U.S. Census Bureau released its public education finance data for FY 2012 last Thursday, along with this report which includes data by state and for the 100 largest school districts. http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/12f33pub.pdf I recommend paying attention to Table 11, per pupil revenues and expenditures by category, and Table 12, spending per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income by category, a figure that takes into account the relative cost of living and ability to pay in different states. Table 18 has per pupil amounts for the 100 largest school districts, albeit without such an adjustment. As usual I have downloaded and compiled more detailed data from the Bureau, including more data categories and data for every individual school district in New York, also aggregated into different regions of the state, and every school district in New Jersey. It took 10 hours to do this compilation, mostly because I repeated it for FY 2012, FY 2002, and FY 1992, three roughly economically comparable years that also approximately match the beginning and end of the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations in New York City.
The data shows that in FY 2012 New York City spent $22,884 per student, somewhat lower than the average of $23,914 for the Downstate Suburbs but more than the $18,827 for New Jersey, the $18,815 for the Upstate Urban Counties, the $19,354 for the Rest of New York State, the $18,242 in Connecticut, and the $16,076 in Massachusetts. The U.S. average was just $12,295 per student. As usual I have adjusted some of these figures for the higher average private sector wage and cost of living in the Northeast. This reduces the NYC figure to $17,865 per child, still 45.3% higher than the U.S. average but below the average for Upstate New York. Moreover, on an unadjusted basis the city spent $13,627 per student on instructional (mostly teachers) wages and benefits in FY 2012. That is $272,540 for every 20 students and $163,500 for every 12 students – during a time when most New Yorkers were under stress from a weak economy and yet the NYC teacher’s union claimed teachers were underpaid and stoked their resentment and de-motivation. The spreadsheets may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”
This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released annual average employment data for 2013, along with rebenchmarked data for that year and the years preceding. I’ve downloaded some of the data to review trends in local government and other employment, from 1990 (the earliest year now available) to last year, for New York City and the Rest of New York State. The data show that local government employment was 23,400 (5.0%) lower in New York City in 2013 than it had been in 1990. In the rest of the state, in contrast, local government employment was 79,800 (14.6%) higher. With regard to the private sector workers that have to pay taxes to support public employees, on the other hand, if one excludes the Health Care and Social Assistance sector (which is substantially government funded) New York City had 226,100 more in 2013 than it had in 1990. The rest of New York State had 2,900 (0.1%) fewer private sector workers in 2013 than in 1990, the Health Care and Social Assistance sector aside.
While those are the changes from 1990 to 2013, however, there was a big break in the direction of things from 2009 to 2013, as compared with 1990 to 2009. The rest of the state, coming off the Great Recession lows, has been adding private sector jobs, while local government has been losing jobs. More commentary, the data and some charts may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”
The annual rebenchmarking of Current Employment Survey data revealed a happy surprise for New York City; private sector employment has gone up more than previously thought. But it also revealed a surprise for the rest of New York State. Based on annual average data, local government employment fell for the second year in a row. The spreadsheet can be accessed here.
From 1990 to 2009, at a time when New York City’s local government employment fell by 10,500 jobs (2.2%), local government employment in the rest of New York State increased by 127,400 jobs (23.3%). There was little population growth in the rest of the state during these years, and if once excludes the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, which is substantially government-financed, private sector employment in the rest of the state fell by 114,800 (3.5%). But from 2009 to 2011, while local government employment in New York City fell once again by 14,200 (3.1%), local government employment in the rest of New York State also fell, by 16,400 (2.4%). So has the “everyone on the payroll” policy finally ended in the rest of the state, are the rising number of ex-government workers being paid to be retired crimping the number being paid to work, or is this just a temporary result of the recession?
Prodded by a New York Times article, it appears that Governor Cuomo is prepared to ask why heads of non-profit organizations — charities in theory — should be paid more than the President of the United States. This represents quite a reversal for, among others, the Times, which had been the mouthpiece of the non-profiteers, uncritically reporting on their "studies," for decades. As I have noted, adjusting for inflation since the last time the President's salary was increased (it tends to be frozen by politics for a long period), that level of pay is $500,000 plus a house. Which is plenty.
Next question: why should public pension funds invest in private companies with employees that are paid imore in guaranteted compensation than the President of the United States, if those companies are unable or unwilling to pay dividends in excess of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond yield? If the investors have to wait, the executives should have to wait, with some kind of conditional compensation that only pays off years down the road if there is also a payoff for investors.
As secretly agreed, I suspect, Cuomo will veto the usual incumbent protection redistricting plan, the legislature will over-ride, Cuomo will condemn, and that will be the end of it. Those who believe there should be actual elections in New York will have to find a way to create them otherwise, and it won’t be easy. Perhaps the media might consider encouraging challengers and challenging incumbents rather than the reverse. Perhaps someone might raise money to provide lawyers when the incumbents work to kick challengers off the ballot. Perhaps the ease of writing in candidates with the new machines might provide an avenue to an actual election. There will be no actual elections if the state legislature can avoid it.
The way to fail as Governor, in a situation where certain powerful interests have irrevocably taken more and more and left others with less and less, is to take a deal for a symbolic victory early in one’s term, allow those powerful interests to claim they have sacrificed, and then have ordinary people realize by the end of one’s term that they are worse off than before. The way to succeed, of course, is to play the same game of having the powerful interests pretend they have sacrificed, but defer the consequences into farther off in the future. Such a symbolic but empty victory is being offered to Andrew Cuomo right now. After all, like Bloomberg, Giuliani, Pataki and Spitzer — and Lindsay and Rockefeller — he wants to be President, right? A little symbolic victory with cost deferred could really help, as all those “Presidents” showed, even if the eventual cost is devastating for all the people who don’t matter and younger generations.