By TOM MORGAN • Syndicated Columnist
What is the truth about New York State? Why do we lose so many good people? Why do our businesses struggle, especially Upstate? Why do our schools, cities and towns struggle? Why are parts of our infrastructure dilapidated?
Our politicians offer us a blizzard of reasons. Every government department explains.
Here is a truth that cuts through it all: New York State spends too much.
It is that simple. To cover that spending it has to tax its people and businesses too much. We whine about high taxes. But there is a glaring reason we have high taxes. New York must tax heavily. To cover its ridiculous spending.
If anyone suggests we cut back, why the squeals of pain erupt. Maybe yours is among them.
Take education. New York could not possibly cut back on spending on our dear pupils. Cuomo wants to add a billion more in the latest budget.
Well, New York already spends 90 percent more per student than the national average. It spends nearly double what the average state spends per student. Yet it cannot find ways to cut that spending?
Consider our state budget: New York has 10 million fewer people than Texas. Yet it spends $60 billion more. And it runs three times as much debt as Texas. Because it has had to borrow so much more. To cover its ridiculous spending.
New York also has to tax us punitively. To cover its spending excesses. Texas taxes gas at 20 cents per gallon. New York taxes gas at 61 cents per gallon. Texas taxes cigarettes at 1.41 per pack. New York 4.35.
New York taxes income. It starts at 4 percent and runs up to 8.8 percent on upper income folks. Texas levies no income tax.
New York splits hairs. It tells us why it cannot reduce any of its spending. It explains away its obvious stupidity. The state can offer a thousand reasons why it must spend so much.
But the state cannot escape a brutal truth: IT SPENDS TOO MUCH! The state is a spendthrift!
New York is just about the top-spending state in the union. Try suggesting to its politicians that they cut 5 percent of spending, across the board. If the state outspends virtually all other states, surely we must run a bit of fat. Surely we could find a few places to save.
Nah. Cannot be done. Nope.
And since it won’t cut spending, it must tax tax tax. We camouflage and hide the taxes. We sugar-coat them. But we are desperate for money to pay for our ridiculous spending. Desperate because we cannot break our spending habits. We are addicted.
I use “we” at this point for a good reason. If New York ever really slashed its outrageous spending we would howl. You can’t touch our school budget! Where are the grants for restoring our main street? These kids will go hungry if the state cuts back.
Few of us can really handle the truth.
From Tom…as in Morgan.
Tom Morgan, a retired investment counselor in Oneonta and nationally syndicated columnist, lives in Franklin.