NYS DREAM Legislation: A Strong Return on Investment

February 27, 2013. A proposal is gaining ground in New York State that would allow all students—including those who are undocumented immigrants—equal access to the state’s Tuition Assistance Program. Last year, the Fiscal Policy Institute published an analysis of the costs and benefits of the proposal. This new report digs deeper into the fiscal and economic benefits to New York State, and shows that if the proposal were financed through the income tax the cost to a typical taxpayer would be 87¢, the price of a donut.

Sequestration would cut human service spending in New York State

February 25, 2013. Last night, the White House released the following likely impacts from sequestration in New York State if Congress does not act to cut the deficit in a balanced way.  Bringing in more revenue by closing tax loopholes along with smarter reductions in spending would allow the federal government to avoid the following cuts in New York State:

Teachers and Schools: The loss of approximately $43 million in funding for about 120 primary and secondary schools placing almost 600 teacher and aide jobs at risk and serving 70,000 fewer students than currently.  This does not include the additional loss of approximately $36 million that supports over 400 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

Work-Study Jobs: The loss of financial aid for about 4,500 low income college students and the loss of work-study jobs for about 4,100 students.

Head Start: The elimination of critical early education services for approximately 4,300 children.

Child Care: The potential loss of up to 2,300 child care slots that allow parents to continue to work.

Vaccines for Children: The loss of almost $500,000 for providing measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B vaccines resulting in over 7,000 fewer children served than currently.

Public Health: The loss of over $9.5 million for responding to public health threats, preventing and treating substance abuse and testing for HIV.  This would result in over 6,000 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs and about 68,000 fewer HIV tests.

Violence against Women: The potential loss of over $400,000 to provide domestic violence services resulting in up to 1,600 fewer victims being assisted.

Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: The loss of approximately $1.5 million for senior meals.

Job Search Assistance: The loss of almost $900,000 in funding to help New Yorkers find employment and training reducing such services for over 46,000 people.

Pollution Prevention: The loss of about $13 million in environmental funding for clean water and air quality and the loss of over $1 million for protecting fish and wildlife.

Military Readiness: The reduction of almost $61 million in pay through furloughs for approximately 12,000 civilian Department of Defense employees and the reduction of about $108 million for base operation funding.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety: The loss of almost $800,000 in funding for crime prevention and prosecution including community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement and crime victim and witness initiatives.

Op-ed: States lead the way on immigration reform

February 24, 2013. This op-ed piece by David Dyssegaard Kallick of FPI and Tanya Broder of the National Immigration Law Council ran in the Kansas City Star, the Denver Post, the Bradenton (Florida) Herald, the Anchorage Daily News, and other local papers around the country.

LIA Among Groups Pushing for Immigration Reform

February 24, 2013. A Newsday article reports that the Long Island Association—the most influential business group in the area—has announced its support for comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigrant advocates want to ensure workers are not exploited or paid lower wages and have eventual access to a path for citizenship.

David Dyssegaard Kallick, immigration research director at the Fiscal Policy Institute in Manhattan, said efforts should first address the estimated 11 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants, while creating an orderly immigration system, without flooding business sectors with lower-wage workers.

“We need to balance the business interests with the interests of workers,” he said.


Closing the window of opportunity: the impact of the Governor’s proposed 2013-14 New York State budget on New York City’s women, youth and families

February 16, 2013. When viewed with a gender lens, the Governor’s 2013-2014 budget impacts New York City’s low-income women and their families in many ways, from decreased resources for low-income women seeking to get a foothold in the job market, to reduced funding for a wide range of essential support services, including access to child care. These proposed budget cuts, coupled with a weak recovery and sharp increases in poverty levels in NYC, further destabilize those most in need. Over the last three years, poverty rates in NYC increased by 2.7 percentage points, resulting in the highest poverty level in over a decade. Since the start of the recession in 2008, 200,000 more New York City residents have fallen into poverty, bringing the total to 1.7 million. View the report.

Wage wars: weighing an increase to minimum wage

February 14, 2013. Inc. Magazine says that the data is mixed, but a minimum wage increase may not be as bad for business as you think. The story written by Jeremy Quittner is excerpted below.

Still, many economists and public policy advocates argue that in states where minimum wage is higher than the federal mandate, the economies fare better than in states where businesses stick to the federal minimum wage, which is currently not indexed to inflation and hence forces some workers to live below poverty level.

“There’ s an emerging consensus that we can’t build a recovery on poverty wage jobs, and these are the fastest growing jobs in the economy,” says Paul Sonn, legal co-director for the National Employment Law Project. In today’s dollars, the current federal minimum wage offers 30 percent less purchasing power than it did in 1968, according to NELP. (A handful of states, including Alabama, Arkansas and Minnesota, mandate even less than the federal minimum wage, which was established as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and contained exemptions for some poorer states.)

Advocates also argue that wage increases bolster loyalty to the employer and create more engagement at work, limiting the cost of turnover.

Additionally, when low-wage workers are paid more, they tend to immediately spend extra wages locally, says James Parrott, deputy director and chief economist for the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York. Increasing the minimum wage to $8.75 in New York State, for example, where there are 1.6 million low-wage workers making $7.25 an hour, would add $1 billion more in state revenue, and an additional 7,300 jobs, according a research report released in January by FPI, which contrasts dramatically with National Federation of Independent Business research. Even fans of wage hikes acknowledge that they must be done in steps–say, an $1.00 per hour jump the first year, and 75 cents the second. “We usually think of [implementing] minimum wage increases in reasonable increments, so it’s something businesses can adapt to,” Parrott says.


Testimony at the Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2013-2014 Executive Budget – Taxes

February 12, 2013. In this testimony, Frank Mauro made the following six points:

  1. New York State should not cut taxes while the resources provided for education and other essential services are being hit with “Gap Elimination Adjustments” and other austerity measures.
  2. New York State should not provide tax subsidies for companies that outsource jobs or otherwise reduce employment in the state.  Economic development tax breaks should only go to businesses that create and maintain jobs in the state.
  3. Loopholes and tax breaks that allow large, multi-state and multi-national corporations to pay proportionately less in state income taxes than small businesses should be fixed or eliminated.  And the integrity of the Corporate Alternate Minimum tax should be restored so that large, profitable corporations are not able to reduce their tax liability below a reasonable percentage of net income.
  4. Provisions of law that allow investment management income to be taxed less than wages or other business income should be eliminated.
  5. New York State should reduce the pressure that it places on the local property tax by increasing revenue sharing (now called Aid and Incentives for Municipalities) and by increasing (on an “ability to pay” basis) the state share of the cost of both education and Medicaid.
  6. New York State should provide targeted tax relief to long-time residents for whom, through no fault of their own, property taxes on their primary residences have come to represent an inordinate share of their income.

FPI on New York’s 2013-14 State Budget

February 12, 2013. We have updated the Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2013-2014 briefing book that was originally released at FPI’s 23rd annual budget briefing on January 29, and submitted testimony by Carolyn Boldiston on the implications for Human Services of the Governor’s 2013-2014 Executive Budget and testimony by Frank Mauro on Tax Issues related to the Legislature’s consideration of the Executive Budget. We have also completed an analysis, with the New York Women’s Foundation, of the impact of the Governor’s budget on women, children and families.

The 2013-2014 Executive Budget also includes proposals on two economic policy issues which have been a major focus of FPI’s work over the years: restoring the purchasing power of the minimum wage and modernizing the Unemployment Insurance system.

The NYC School Bus Workers’ Strike

February 8, 2013. One of New York City’s biggest challenges is providing a sufficient number of decent job opportunities to enable its citizens to provide for their families and offer hope of a better life for their children. The city’s pronounced income polarization is fundamentally rooted in the job market. Economic and labor market changes over the years have severely limited the availability of good jobs that provide reasonable health and retirement benefits. These changes, which threaten the survival of New York as a middle class city, are not dictated by technology, markets, competition or globalization. They are shaped by those forces, but economic change is determined by a host of public and private policy choices.  In testimony submitted to the New York City Council Committees on Education and Finance, James A. Parrott, FPI’s Deputy Director and Chief Economist, stated that the school bus drivers’ and matrons’ strike is a dramatic example of the need to make the right choice in favor of good jobs and opportunities for New Yorkers without higher education.

US cities in decline embrace immigrants

February 6, 2013. The Financial Times is one of several media outlets to be interested in cities like Baltimore and Dayton that are trying to reverse population growth by creating an environment that feels welcoming to all, including immigrants. Here is the link.

“To get Baltimore growing again, it makes sense to look at what made us grow in the first place: the strength of our immigrants,” says Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Democratic mayor of Baltimore, who wants to attract 10,000 new families to Baltimore over the next decade.

She hopes the new families will boost income and property tax revenues and create jobs, helping to reinvigorate the economy.

“No one is giving credit to the job creators,” she says. “If you go out into the city, you will find restaurants and stores run by our foreign-born population and each of them creates jobs and enhances the cultural strength of the city.”