We couldn't think of an original blog for today, so we stole a page from the website of NewYorkMatters.org.
The not-for-profit public research group continues the focus on taxes, education, health care, and other issues of concern to New York residents and businesses, and now hopes to stir the debate with public forums across the State.
One such forum will be held tonight (September 14th) in Buffalo, and other community conclaves to discuss and consider options to deal with New York's most pressing issues -- from high taxes to school financing -- are scheduled for Long Island (September 16th), NYC (September 28th), and Rochester (September 30th).
Even if you cannot attend one (or more) of these public forums, you'll certainly want to take a look at Erika Rosenberg's timely report, High Taxes In New York: What Are The Options, a "white paper" circulated in advance among the Long Island forum participants to help stimulate the debate.
While the conclusions reached are no surprise, the in-depth analysis is compelling, and the presentation of real-world options to solve the crisis, downright refreshing. [We hope the folks at New York Matters sent a copy (or 100) of this report to Eliot Spitzer and his pre-transition staff, as well as to every member of the NYS Legislature!]
By way of both background and prelude, consider the following vis-a-vis New York's taxes:
-The average State and local taxes per person in New York were $5,260 1n 2004, some 53% higher than the national average;
-Local taxes (County, Town, Special District) are 83% higher than the national average;
-NY State has the highest burden in the nation with $137 out of every $1000 of personal income going to State and local taxes.
Tax "relief" programs in New York (including the infamous death STAR) haven't stopped the tax burden from continuing to increase.
POP QUIZ: Which county (in 2004) had the highest per capita school taxes?
If you answered Nassau or Westchester, you got it wrong. The winner -- or loser -- was Hamilton County in the Adirondacks, checking in at $2524. Must be all that fresh air.
Nassau county came in second at $2206, with Putnam crossing the line to show at $2061. [Geez. Wouldn't it be nice if most of us were paying a mere $2206 in school taxes? Try the neighborhood of $6000, and you're beginning to get warm!]
Nassau did come in first in county taxes (again, in 2004 -- why does it take so long for the numbers to catch up with reality?), with a per capita tax averaging $1404. Hamilton came in at number two with $1321 per capita. Take that, Hamilton County!
So, what can be done to stop the madness? First, read the report. Then, get involved in grassroots campaigns to find viable, workable, and affordable solutions to the forboding tax avalanche. Learn the facts. Spread the word. Join the debate. Then raise your own expectations, and demand more from the government you pay for, and pay for, and pay for!
Public Forums Will Spotlight Top Issues
New York Matters, a project to draw attention this fall to the issues most important to New Yorkers, is sponsoring public forums this month across the state on the topics that voters are most concerned about.
The forums will try to answer the questions that are vexing New York, such as: How can we fund schools and other priorities without breaking taxpayers?How can state government help the upstate economy recover?
Our poll found that voters want these problems discussed in advance of the November election, when New York will pick a new governor.
Participants will include New Yorkers who responded to the New York Matters issues poll, representatives of civic groups, academic experts, elected officials, and more.
Here are the details:
Buffalo, Struggling in New York: How Can the State Help the Economy Recover? 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, 1 Lafayette Square.
Participants include: Assemblyman Robin Schimminger; Dr. Kausar Hamdani of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s regional office; Gary Keith, regional economist at M&T Bank; Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, and Henry Louis Taylor, director for the Center for Urban Studies at the University of Buffalo.The panel moderator will be Marsha Henderson, vice president of external affairs at the University of Buffalo.
Long Island, High Taxes: What are the Options?
12 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, September 16
Room 114, Studio A, of Dempster Hall, Hofstra University.
Participants include: Patrick Halpin, executive director of the Institute for Student Achievement; Richard V. Guardino Jr., executive dean of Hofstra’s Center for Suburban Studies; Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition; Pearl Kamer, economist with the Long Island Association; and Elaine Gross, president of Erase Racism. The discussion will be moderated by Larry Levy, the host of WLIW’s Face-Off program and a Newsday columnist.
New York City, Is Robin Hood the Good Guy? Moving Toward a More Equitable School Aid System for New York.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 28, Baruch College Conference Center, Vertical Campus, 55 Lexington Avenue at 24th Street, 14th floor.
Participants include: Robert Jackson, NY City Council member and chairman of the Education Committee; David Shaffer, Public Policy Institute of the Business Council; Diana Fortuna, President of the Citizens Budget Commission; and Kent Gardner, President of the Center for Governmental Research. Eugene Keilin, Citizens Budget Commission trustee, will be the moderator.
Rochester, How Can Rochester Recover from Downsizing at the Big Three?
Noon, Saturday September 30 at the Golisano Auditorium at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Participants include: Assemblyman Joseph Morelle; John “Dutch” Summers, CEO of Jasco Tools; Senator James Alesi; Jennifer Leonard, president of the Rochester Area Community Foundation; Ellen Rosen, vice president of the Rochester Business Alliance; and Jim Bertolone, president of the Rochester Labor Council. RIT President Albert Simone will be the moderator.
For more information on the public forums and the initiatives of New York Matters, contact Michael Caputo at (585) 327-7082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.