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New York State Government

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Giving and Getting: Regional Distribution of Revenue and Spending
in the New York State Budget, Fiscal Year 2009-10


Downstate gives more to the state in taxes and revenues than it gets back in expenditures for services and other assistance. Upstate, on the other hand, gets more than it gives, according to this report , which analyzes the regional distribution of revenues collected and dollars spent within the New York State budget. The report examines actual receipts and expenditures for the 2009-10 fiscal year. The study considered "state funds" only, excluding federal assistance and state expenditures supported by such aid.
December 20, 2011

The Two New Yorks


The perception of an unfair relationship between the Empire State and its largest city is longstanding.This article reviews major developments over time in the relationship between the “two New Yorks.” It concludes that disputes over “fairness” may distract from more important considerations that affect all the state’s regions equally. Such concerns might include the overall state-local division of authority — and whether more attention should focus on how effectively state budget dollars are used, rather than the issue of who gets how much.
Robert B. Ward, Government, Law and Policy Journal, Summer 2011

Governor Cuomo’s Three Big Achievements


New York's freshman governor delivered three policy changes in his first legislative session that are likely to have long-lasting effects: gay marriage, a property tax cap and sharp reduction of a structural budget gap. The result: Restoration of the power of the chief’s executive office in Albany.
Robert B. Ward, June 2011

Should Wisconsin Come to New York? The Intersection of
Collective Bargaining, Budgets and Politics


The Institute, in conjunction with the Government Law Center of Albany Law School, addressed the topic of the collective bargaining rights of public employees and the cost of employee compensation with a debate between former legislators John Faso and Richard Brodsky. The issue has garnered national attention as states look at ways to reduce budget shortfalls; in Wisconsin in particular, a series of public protests surrounded the passage of legislation weakening public employees' collective bargaining rights. Faso, former minority leader of the Assembly and 2006 candidate for governor, argued that public employee unions have become too powerful, and force extraordinary and unnecessary costs on state and local governments. "Collective bargaining has gotten out of control in New York State, and it needs reform," he said. Brodsky, a former Assemblyman, countered that the ability of employees to come together to negotiate salaries and working conditions is a uniquely American right, and that union leaders were responsible enough to understand the state's fiscal concerns at the bargaining table. "Collective bargaining represents democracy in the workplace," Brodsky said.
Public Policy Forum, March 23, 2011

A Conversation with Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch


Though Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch's term is nearing its end, he plans to continue to contribute to the conversation about fiscal challenges facing New York and other states, he told this public policy forum. Governor David Paterson appointed Mr. Ravitch in July 2009. The Lieutenant Governor has since been working to educate New York voters and policymakers about the need to move the state toward structural budgetary balance, and developing recommendations to do so. In a question-and-answer session with Institute Deputy Director Robert B. Ward, Mr. Ravitch spoke about various aspects of his recommendations, including the need for officials to consider what services the state can afford to provide, while recognizing the state's self-interest in investing in education and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure. He also talked about the interplay among federal, state and local governments in addressing economic and fiscal issues that are being felt at all levels.
Public Policy Forum, December 9, 2010

Gubernatorial Powers to Address Budget Gaps During the Fiscal Year

   [PDF]
A report from New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch in March 2010 proposed that the governor be granted broader power to address midyear budget gaps by implementing across-the-board spending cuts, in the absence of legislative action to deal with fiscal emergencies. This Institute report compares New York’s existing rules regarding midyear budget reductions to those in other states, and explores issues state policymakers may wish to address as they consider such expanded gubernatorial authority to preserve budgetary balance.
Robert B. Ward, June 17, 2010

Executive Authority: Enacting the Budget, Keeping It Balanced


Gov. David Paterson's unprecedented use of executive power demonstrated the power New York's chief executive can wield in adoption of the state budget. But keeping spending and revenues aligned through the year is another matter — and here, the governor's legal authority comes up short.
Robert B. Ward, June 2010

Control of New York’s Senate: Who Decides?


The question of who controls the New York State Senate is, for now, in the hands of the 62 senators rather than the courts. But a lingering power vacuum may produce new calls for judicial intervention. If and when such an appeal goes to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, its decision whether to accept the case could turn on this question: What does uncertainty over the Senate mean for the state?
Robert B. Ward, April 2009

Stability and Volatility in New York’s Income Tax


As New York State legislators considered proposals to raise the income tax on high-income earners, Rockefeller Institute Senior Fellow Donald J. Boyd testified before the state Senate’s Select Committee on Budget and Tax Reform. Boyd noted that tax policies inevitably involve “trade-offs,” and said the bills would raise billions for spending that could benefit the economy, but could also fuel undesirable year-to-year revenue swings.
Donald J. Boyd, March 12, 2009

Study of the Real Property Tax in New York State


New York’s property tax is often criticized as burdensome and inequitable. A new Rockefeller Institute report for the Education Finance Research Consortium analyzes changes in the property tax from 1993-2006 to assess its impact across regions, property classes and ability to pay. Overall, the study found that however it is measured, the property tax burden rose during those 13 years. And the school property tax became more regressive, with effective tax rates in poorer districts rising relative to income.
December 2008

New York and the Global Economy


Rising threats to Wall Street’s role as a source of wealth and jobs, the vital link between higher education and economic growth, and the importance of immigrant entrepreneurs were among the topics explored in an October 6th Rockefeller Institute conference, “New York and the Global Economy.” Carl T. Hayden, chair of the State University Board of Trustees, analyzed steps that other nations have taken to boost economic development by expanding higher-education opportunity.
A New York State Network for Economic Research Conference
October 6, 2008

Gubernatorial Succession and the Powers of the Lieutenant Governor

   [PDF]
A Public Policy Forum featuring Honorable Joseph L. Bruno, Majority Leader and President Pro Tem, New York State Senate; Honorable Robin Schimminger, New York State Assembly; Panel: Gerald Benjamin, SUNY New Paltz, Richard Briffault, Columbia University, Peter J. Galie, Canisius College. May 29, 2008
Listen to the Audio (Full)
Segment 1: Honorable Robin Schimminger
Segment 2: Honorable Joseph L. Bruno
Panel: Gerald Benjamin, Richard Briffault, and Peter Galie

New York State Government: Second Edition


A new edition of the definitive guide to New York State government, looking at the agenda and challenges facing New York policymakers in the years ahead. With five new chapters, the book also examines the issue of the upstate economy, New York‘s complex array of local governments, and the role of debt and public authorities.
Robert B. Ward, The Rockefeller Institute Press, 2006
Order from SUNY Press Curriculum   [PDF]

Rockefeller In Retrospect: The Governor's New York Legacy

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Nelson A. Rockefeller, the state’s distinguished fiftieth governor, served from 1959 to 1973. About 100 people — many of them participants with the governor in state government during his tenure — gathered at the Rockefeller Institute of Government on December 10 and 11, 1982. They discussed the governor’s long-term impact upon politics, institutions, and policies in the Empire State. This volume is the record of that two-day program.
Gerald Benjamin and T. Norman Hurd (Eds.), 1984

Remembering Al Marshall, 1921-2008

   [PDF]
Twenty-seven distinguished New Yorkers who served with Alton G. Marshall, Governor Rockefeller’s longtime chief of staff, offer memories of his character, dedication, leadership, and creativity — and of the inspiration he provided to others.
July 2008