Spending Watch


Bulletin #2: April 26, 1999
Just The Facts: New York State is a leader in spending

This year's debate over the state budget boils down to one key question: How much should spending go up in the coming year?

The health-care lobbyists, the education establishment and others are hoping the answer is several multiples of the inflation rate. That seems hard to justify. At a time when our population is barely growing, why should the cost of government grow more than the cost of goods and services?

And a big spending increase becomes virtually impossible to justify when you look at the huge amounts of taxpayer money already being spent in New York.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently issued its authoritative report on state and local spending for every state in the nation. Here in New York, such spending totaled $7,990 as of 1996. We rank 2nd among the states, and more than 50 percent above the national average. Other major industrialized states spend far less than we do: California, $5,876 per capita; Michigan, $5,115; Pennsylvania, $5,006; Ohio, $4,926. All of those states provide decent health care, sound education and other public services - at costs far lower than ours.

Health, education, welfare costs: All are high in New York

What about New York? Where does all the money go? Well, our Medicaid spending is far and away the highest in the country - more than double the national average, on a per-capita basis. Our schools spend $9,812 per student, some 50 percent above average. Welfare spending in New York is $1,377 per capita, 89 percent above average.

These and other key statistics appear in Just The Facts, the latest report from The Public Policy Institute (the research arm of The Business Council).

Just The Facts also shows that combined state and local taxes in New York remain the nation's highest, even though we've been leading the nation in tax cuts in recent years. Those high taxes really aren't a surprise, given our incredibly high level of spending.

And, given our high taxes, it's also no surprise that we're still not matching the nation's job growth. Just The Facts has those numbers, too. (If you haven't received your copy yet, call The Public Policy Institute at 518/465-7511.)

We need to restrain spending, so we can continue cutting taxes, so we can grow jobs. That's just the facts.