This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in NY Daily News
Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo really are clueless; New Yorkers aren’t leaving our state because of the weather. New York’s income tax revenue didn’t drop because of Washington.
Residents are fleeing the Empire State because its tax burden on individuals ranks as one of the highest in the nation.
In January, de Blasio cried, “we have some tough choices up ahead under any scenario” due to a $935 million drop in tax revenue. Yet that didn’t stop him from proposing a budget that increases spending by another $3 billion in the next fiscal year.
Time to tighten your belt and cut spending, you might say? Not in Bill de Blasio’s New York.
A budget crunch hasn’t stopped the mayor from announcing new giveaways like half-priced MetroCards for some and guaranteed healthcare for 300,000 undocumented immigrants, who have broken federal laws and are living in New York illegally.
A city hospital system hemorrhaging billions every year and more than 400,000 citizens living in slum-like conditions in city-run housing haven’t stopped the mayor from adding to the city’s already bloated bureaucracy with the creation of the Office of Nightlife, the Office to Protect Tenants and the appointment of a chief democracy officer and the high-paid staffs that go with them. Not to mention the 314 special assistants he now has at City Hall, nearly triple what Mayor Bloomberg had.
Last month, Cuomo announced that the state is facing a $2.3 billion shortfall. He was quick to cast blame on President Trump and the federal government saying, “everything we did economically is right.”
Meanwhile, tax dollars disappear into the bottomless pits of ill-conceived and corruption-tainted economic development projects like the aptly nicknamed Buffalo Billion. We’ve seen the state fork over $90 million to build an upstate factory, only to have the prospective user walk away from the deal without facing a financial penalty.
The list goes on and on. Most recently, Cuomo and de Blasio offered Amazon a whopping $3 billion in tax credits and subsidies to offset our high tax burden, garnering criticism from across the political spectrum. Fiscal conservatives wanted a better deal like the one brokered in Virginia, but thanks to a small group of anti-capitalists, we ended up getting no deal instead.
According to the highly regarded Empire Center for Public Policy, the Cuomo administration, over its first eight years, wasted more than $10 billion in public funding and tax breaks on these types of economic development boondoggles.
The state has also been cutting into its own tax revenues by handing out $37 million in tax credits to the highly rated, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” out of fear that our high taxes would force them to join the exodus of over a million residents who have fled New York State since Cuomo was first elected governor in 2010.
New York City and state are addicted to spending; an intervention is desperately needed. To put things in perspective; Florida, a state with just over a million more residents, gets by with a budget roughly $85 billion less than the Empire State’s. Not to be outdone, New York City’s budget is actually larger than the budget of 42 states.
The bottom line is clear; runaway spending and the resulting higher taxes are driving those who can afford to flee out of New York. The resulting drop in tax revenue speaks to the unsustainable levels of spending that will eventually throw New York City and State into financial crisis. The only question is when do we take the steps needed to remedy this situation: before or after the crisis becomes a reality?