Thursday, June 5, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
Thursday, April 10, 2014
From 1995 to approximately 2012-2013, there were two economic contractions in New York State. The first occurred after September 11, 2001 and the second occurred in 2007-2008 or the Housing/Banking crisis. Immediately following those catastrophic events, local government employment surged. The number of teachers as a segment of that population did not, however. In fact, they suffered major losses following and during the contraction cycles. During the 2012-2013 period, local government added some 78,000 people to the payroll. These numbers do not include NYC and the Burroughs. State employment levels have had a net loss of approximately 30,000 government employees since the 1990s.
New York State had a net gain of roughly 8,600 teachers throughout the state to 2012. Approximately 6,000 of those went to Nassau and Suffolk County alone. Suffolk and Nassau had an 11% and 3% increase in population between 1993 and 2012. Suffolk County has the most number of students (255,293 in 2011) and teachers (18,663 in 2011) in the state (compare to Erie County which had had 133,580 Students and 10,457 Teachers in 2011). Nearly all school districts in NYS have an average of 13 students per teacher ratio and have maintained that over 20 years. Suffolk County spends approximately $15,000 per student where as Erie County Spends approximately $5,000 per student.
The state gained roughly 15,000 police personnel over the same time. Police retirement costs have been rising exponentially and this is likely due to overtime.
Looking at the Office of the Comptroller of New York State’shttp://www.openbooknewyork.com/website, retirement benefits are one of the fastest growing segments of municipal budgets. Transportation and economic development are also large segments of municipal budgets, but not near as large as retirement benefits. BUT the largest single cost to local governments is medical benefits which also has been growing, but not at the same rate as retirement benefit costs. (Note: This site does not take into consideration the time value of money. Therefore, for example, $14,000 in 1999 is approximately $20,000 in today’s dollars).
Retirement benefit costs are fast growing for three reasons in New York State: One, years that the stock market was doing well, local governments were funding at lower levels (the New York State and Local Government Retirement Fund is fully funded and one of the few in the nation that is fully funded). Two, the two economic contractions cause lower yields and therefore require higher funding levels to make up the difference. Three, the large surge in local government employment.
Therefore, it appears that the single largest contributing factor to your tax bills is medical benefits. Would it not seem logical for State and Federal government to lower the costs of healthcare so that tax payers could see their tax bills at the local level reduced and reduced significantly? This means more than supplying affordable healthcare insurance. This means investigating the cost of providing healthcare at its core.
*All assumptions are based on the review of the Bureau of the Census Pension Series and Government Employment data and the Common Core of Data (CCD) from the Department of Education.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Public Banking in Vermont
November 5, 2013
For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Stannard
Development Director, Public Banking Institute
Public Bank of Vermont Could Create Thousands of Jobs, Save Millions of Dollars: Report
A report released yesterday by Vermonters for a New Economy concludes that a publicly-owned bank in Vermont could yield over 2,500 jobs in the state, add almost $200 million to the Gross State Product and over $300 million in state output, and save the state “close to $100 million in interest costs.”
The results of the report led Vermont State Sen. Anthony Pollina to announce today that he will be filing legislation this session that would give the Vermont Economic Development Authority a banking license. Such a bank would, according to Vermonters for a New Economy, “enable Vermont to keep our taxpayer dollars in Vermont, working for our economy.”
Vermonters for a New Economy commissioned the report from the Political Economy Research Institute, an independent unit of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with close ties to the school's Department of Economics.
The study demonstrates that public goods can be funded without putting governments in debt to private lenders with outlandishly high interest rates, says Marc Armstrong, Executive Director of the Public Banking Institute, a nonpartisan group devoted to education and advocacy on publicly-owned banks. “Vermont is already in the banking business with the extensive loan programs in place at the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA), and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC),” Armstrong said. “This study confirms the merits of funding these same loans with inexpensive bank credit, something only available to licensed banks.” The report points out that the new credit generated by the bank would be at low cost to the state because a public bank does not need to sell bonds to borrow money.
Public banking advocates argue that democratically-run, publicly-owned banks avoid the diversion of public money and private deposits into speculative instruments and foreign industries that compete with domestic industries, and avoid high interest rates in the financing of public services. The Bank of North Dakota, the only state-owned bank in the continental United States, was founded in 1919 and has been profitable every year since 1971. In 2012, BND set a new profit record for the ninth straight year, making $81.6 million in profits in 2012. Return on Equity was 17.6% and its assets grew 14% -- to almost $6.2 billion. During the 2008 economic crisis, North Dakota had its largest budget surplus in state history.
Armstrong believes the study also demonstrates that public reliance on private sector banking is “wasteful,” because it places taxpayer money into private banks, only to be borrowed back at higher rates. “This is like lending your snow blower to your neighbor, only to have your neighbor charge you when you want it back,” Armstrong said.
On Friday, November 8, Vermonters for a New Economy will hold a roundtable discussion on the results of the study, at the North Branch Winery, in Montpelier, at noon eastern time.
Supporters of public banking are currently launching a Friends of Public Banking campaign with a goal of creating public banks in all fifty states in the U.S.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Some of you are adverse to any type of regulation at all. That is well known and has been since the Town’s birth well over 200 years ago. Your existing concept of private property rights was the prevailing law in an agricultural-based economy that pretty much disappeared from the Town of Amity at the time that the Court House was built on the hill in the early 1970s. The Town of Amity’s economic base is no longer primarily invested in agriculture. Parts of it still remain; however, what does remain is being consumed by larger agricultural conglomerates or corporate farming if you will.
There are very few small dairy cattle operations or chicken or pig farms in the Town any more. The Town’s economy is now steeped in a service economy or providing services largely involved in retail, food and hospitality. It is quickly becoming a bedroom community for Buffalo and Rochester full of second residences with part-time residents.
The current proposal for a site plan review law did not incorporate what you think of as conventional zoning and the rumors circulated with this assumption were flat out incorrect. Site plan review simply curtails the impact of land uses on adjacent properties. What site plan review does is regulate design aspects to comply with what are already common requirements for development in some state statutes or nuisance violations. It is NOT zoning.
More importantly, the site plan review law was for new development only and did not apply to residential development or your existing homes. The standards are intended to protect common public health and safety issues that could arise from new development like on-site septic and sewer or the ability to not overload existing water resources, or visual pollution form Las Vegas style signs, noise or odors that could potentially cause peace disturbances and soil erosion that could wash away your neighbor’s driveway. The law was simple common sense solutions as any industrial or large commercial impact could and would cost the existing residents more in the form of taxes to mitigate those impacts down the road. Under NYS Town Law, there is even the ability to waive any requirements as the board sees as making common sense.
The proposed law was forward thinking planning for potential high impact development resulting from future gas drilling and its onslaught of workers and their families coming from out of town. In fact, the law was actually minimal in regulation and very flexible. This is not seasonal and temporary hunters coming in for deer season. These are workers and their families coming from who knows where and staying for a long time.
The Town is hardly prepared for the gas fracking bust and boom. You might like it at first. But I am certain that you are not going to like it when it starts to overwhelm services that the town provides. What you have to ask yourself is this: Should you want to prepare (be proactive) at least something in case or do you want to react after the fact when it is too late?