New Yorkers struggling under heavy tax burden

In a Dec. 15 Another Voice, union executive Mario Cilento urged New Yorkers to reject calls for cuts to state taxes because “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Cilento is right, of course: Government services cost money, and government money comes from taxes. But the numbers show that New Yorkers have been paying for a lunch of caviar and champagne.

Our state’s per capita tax burden is 64 percent above the U.S. median, and our rate of public employment, state and local, is 17 percent above the national average. We pay our government workers, on average, 20 percent more than do the rest of the states. As well, New York’s wage and tax structure ensures that we pay 55 percent more for our electricity than does the average American.

In the realm of health care, New York’s gigantic Medicaid budget far exceeds that of California, which serves more than twice as many people. In fact, it almost equals that of California and Texas combined.

Cilento asks us what services we are prepared to give up in return for lower taxes. The fair question is: Why are New Yorkers being soaked so outrageously for the ordinary services we now enjoy?

We cannot hope to rescue our economy until we achieve something approaching tax normalcy, but we have an awfully long way to get there.

Joe Sedita