NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 18, 2008

As the recession hits home, all across America businesses and families are having to make hard decisions about what not to buy this year, or whether they can afford a vacation or that plane trip home for the holidays.  The exception is the government -- federal, state and city, says the Wall Street Journal.

As a case in point, consider New York's imploding finances. City and state politicians want voters to believe that they have been careful stewards of taxpayer money, searching out waste far and wide, and genuinely doing everything they can to control government bloat.  However: 

  • New York City did witness a reduction in public employment in 2002 and 2003, during the last period of slower economic growth.
  • But the city quickly resumed its habit of ever-growing payrolls, and they have kept growing rapidly in the years since -- to an estimated record this June 30 of 313,965 employees on the public dime, according to the Mayor's office.
  • That's an increase of more than 40,000 public workers in a year when Wall Street has been enduring historic losses and laying off tens of thousands of people.

Like most of his predecessors, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been reluctant to challenge the public-employee unions that drive ever-larger public employment.  Now, amid the current downturn, he is once again talking about a property-tax increase or a new commuter tax along with some modest reductions in services.  That is merely tinkering with the status quo rather than using the current crisis as an opportunity to drive major reform, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "The Public Payroll Always Rises; New York spends as if the mortgage boom never ended," Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2008.

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