New York Commission Says State Could Save $1 Billion

Published July 1, 2008

A commission appointed last year by former New York governor Eliot Spitzer (D) has announced the state’s taxpayers could save $1 billion a year by consolidating government services and requiring government employees to pay more for their health insurance.

In an April 30 news conference, Gov. David A. Paterson (D) said he welcomed the report, which identified thousands of local government entities with the power to levy taxes. The report states these thousands of tax-levying entities give New York “arguably the most complex property tax system in the nation.”

Paterson described some of the local governments, many of which have politically appointed officials, as “patronage mills” and said consolidations must be made to reduce New York’s high property tax burden.

“We recognize that this has been talked about before,” Paterson told reporters. “We recognize that this has been tried before. But we are in an economic time that may be unparalleled.”

Succinctly summing up the tax and budget situation, commission member Howard Weitzman told The New York Times, “Taxes are high because governments spend money. And therefore, the less government we have, the less money we’ll be spending.”

Government employee unions criticized the report, saying it unfairly puts most of the burden of solving the state’s budget and tax problems on them.

Jason Mercier ([email protected]) is director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center.