It is an insidious thing when government opens the candy store in pursuit of unwise goals or access to the bank accounts of high-dollar donors. In New York State, the consequence has been to render it uncompetitive in multiple ways.
Because of policies adopted in Albany, New York owns one of the nation’s worst business climates. Its electric rates are among the highest. The cumulative tax bill paid by New Yorkers is one of the nation’s highest. Labor laws tilt dramatically in favor of unions, driving up costs of construction, education and just about every other aspect of life in New York.
The most recent blow to New York’s competitive position is a new report showing that even buying a home is too expensive in New York. For the third year in a row, closing costs in New York are the nation’s highest – and that’s even after a 12 percent decline from the previous year’s costs. New York’s average closing cost of $5,435 remains significantly higher than the national average of $3,754, which is down 7.4 percent from last year.
The reasons are multiple, including origination fees and title costs that are far ahead of other states. Unlike some other states, New Yorkers are required to engage lawyers to purchase a house.
The problem of high closing costs may be more symptomatic of New York’s dysfunction than actually harmful. Few people, we suspect, would avoid moving to New York or, once here, buying a home because of the state’s closing costs. What is more, with diligence, there are ways to reduce that expense.
But it would be an easy bet – and in New York’s case, a winning one – that the state with the country’s highest closing costs would also jack up the costs of living in multiple other ways, including those cited above. It’s a mindset, and in New York, the mindset has been that politicians can impose whatever costs or regulations they want because people will always want to live in the great state of New York.
That wager hasn’t worked out well. New York’s population growth is slower than other states and, as a result, it is losing political clout. This year, it is losing two seats in Congress, leaving it with 27 seats. That has eroded New York’s congressional influence to its lowest point in nearly two centuries.
It’s a trend. New York also lost two seats after the 2000 census. Indeed, the state has been on a downward trajectory since its peak influence in the 1930s and 1940s, when 45 of the seats in Congress belonged to New York. Since then, it has forfeited 40 percent of its influence in Washington. The harm done to New Yorkers is real.
That is not all Albany’s fault. The South and West became more attractive with the arrival of affordable air conditioning, for example. But there is no question that policies established in Albany have contributed mightily to New York’s decline. The costs of house-buying are but one sad example.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo swept into office pledging to attack the Albany monster that has devoured the state’s prosperity and, for the most part, he has been as good as his word. But years of unwise policies have allowed destructive forces to seep into just about every facet of life in New York. Cuomo and the Legislature have a lot of work to do.