STUMP » Articles » Taxing Tuesday: Taxes on my Horizon » 17 July 2018, 04:45

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Taxing Tuesday: Taxes on my Horizon  


17 July 2018, 04:45

This time, it’s personal.


Deprived of Mandatory Dues, Public Sector Unions Come After Your Tax Dollars

Rep. Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) plans to introduce legislation that would allow unions to include the costs of collective bargaining in their government contracts, the New York Post reports. That would tap taxpayers, rather than union members, to fund unions’ operations.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of logic to the Janus decision to start with, but New York state—in our Constitution and law—has long recognized that public employees have the right to collectively bargain,” Gottfried tells the paper.

Of course, nothing in the Janus ruling prohibits public sector employees from bargaining collectively. The ruling merely says that unions cannot compel dues payment from non-members covered by collective bargaining agreements. Those mandatory dues payments—also known as “agency fees“—violate workers’ First Amendment rights, the Supreme Court ruled.

Now just check this out – will the union members simply not have to pay any dues?

Surely, you must be joking:

Dues from union members were not impacted by the ruling.

Under the arrangement proposed by Gottfried, unions would be able to trade a portion of a wage increase to pay for collective-bargaining costs.

Gottfried outlined the plan in a memo to other state lawmakers that was leaked to the Empire Center, which assailed the proposal.

“It would be terrible policy on a number of levels,” said Ken Girardin, a policy analyst at the conservative think tank in Albany. “You could be talking about $400, $500, $600 per worker per year.

“It’s going to come out of someone’s pockets and be handed over to the union,” he added. “The practice would be indefensible.”

Oh, so the money will still come out of the hides of the public employees (though not the people who run the union itself.)

Girardin said politically powerful unions and their allies in state government would play numbers games that would ultimately stick the taxpayers with the bargaining tab without sacrificing wage hikes.

Yeah, that seems much more likely than hitting the public employees. After all, politicians aren’t playing with real money – you know, their own money.

Back to the money money money:

To comply with the Janus decision, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced last week that agency fees will no longer be withheld from workers’ paychecks starting on July 11. According to data from the Empire Center, there are about 200,000 public sector workers in New York who are not union members. They will save about $110 million annually by not having to pay the fees.

That could be just the start. An analysis by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, a union-backed think tank, estimated that 726,000 workers, including some 136,000 members in New York, would choose to stop paying dues if the Janus decision went against the unions.

But wait – the agency fees thing should just be if the employees are not union members.

It didn’t say that the unions couldn’t collect dues from their actual members. Hmm.



Westchester can up tax levy 5.7% and not break state cap: Auditor

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County may be able to increase the county property tax levy by 5.7 percent and still not break a state-imposed cap, auditors said Monday.

Nicholas DeSantis, of the firm PFK O’Connor Davies, made the estimate during a presentation of the county’s financial standing to members of the press.

“All in all, there’s about $32 million in property tax receipts that would be available in ‘19 without theoretically breaking the property tax cap,” he told reporters.

New York state limits property tax levy increases to 2 percent, but that number can vary year to year based on inflation rates and other variables. To break the cap, a municipality needs a two-thirds majority vote.

The county will have roughly $10.9 million in “carryover” from previous budgets, DeSantis said. Another $21.1 million is available under the state guidelines, the auditing firm estimated.

The limits under the cap came up as focus ramps up on Westchester’s shaky finances. The county closed out 2017 with a $32.2 million budget deficit and is projecting a $28.7 million deficit for 2018.

But County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat, said it was too early to speculate about any tax increase for 2019.

“Let’s be clear nowhere in here have we discussed a significant property tax increase,” he told reporters. “Anyone who asserts that is playing politics with our finance and we’ve had politics played far too long with our finance.”

The executive said his staff was looking to save longterm by consolidating office space, reducing energy use, reviewing contracts and exploring shared services. The administration was also looking to make sure it was properly collecting its non-property tax receipts, such as a tax on hotel bookings, he said.

His administration checked a state website database for unclaimed funds, he noted. Still, the county faces continued instability unless it can find a recurring solution to the problem it has been spending more than it is taken in from annual recurring revenues.

Latimer came into office in January, replacing Rob Astorino, a two-term Republican who stuck to an ideological pledge to keep the property-tax levy flat. Latimer blamed the previous administration for the budget instability, saying Astorino didn’t include funds to account for new labor union contracts and included revenue from a deal to lease out airport management that has yet to be finalized.

Astorino’s latter budgets were criticized for relying on borrowing and one-shot revenues to achieve balance. He proposed another flat budget for 2018, but lawmakers modified the budget and approved a 2 percent tax increase. Astorino vetoed the plan, but was overridden by the legislature.

Legislature Chairman Ben Boykin, a White Plains Democrat, said there may be some belt tightening as a result of the difficulties.

“Being a financial individual I knew that the day of reckoning would not be far and we have reached that day of reckoning,” he said.

The county portion makes up less than a quarter of the average Westchester tax bill, with local municipal and school taxes making up the majority.



(an aside: the reason there wasn’t a Memory Monday yesterday: it was Summer Re-Runs, if you can believe it. I had nothing new to share – all the ads were the same, etc.)

Okay, the oxygen has been consumed by the World Cup, Russia, and that also-ran Kavanaugh. The tax stuff I’ve come across isn’t much new. The “dealing with the SALT cap” has gone underground after the IRS did its warning shot, and the soda tax has had its spotlight stolen by straw bans.

So have some tweets.

Uganda’s social media tax:

But Trump:

Soda tax:

Random crazy stuff: