New York City's Independent Budget Office has released its annual report on the possible choices that a cash-strapped municipality like ours must make (mostly, we either cut non-essential services or raise money through taxation of the wealthy). The report is a comprehensive document that weighs the pro's and con's of any choice, be it getting rid of summer school for elementary and middle school students, or putting tolls on the East River crossings.
Good thing we live in a city whose special interest groups and aversion to offending the wealthy define our deep incapacity to enact any of these suggestions (suggestions we have paid for, again and again)! So the "2013 Budget Options for New York City" is like reading from a wonderful fantasy novel, where NIMBY-ism and electoral politics have been completely eradicated through the descent of a glowing orb of enlightened consciousness directly into Central Park.
We've laid out some of the policies below:
The Insanely Politically Unfeasible
- Replace Late-Night Service on the Staten Island Ferry With Buses: This is funny because it thinks that a bus from downtown Manhattan that then took the Battery Tunnel to the BQE and then eventually made it over the Verrazano into Staten Island would arrive before the sun rose. Oh, and also that SI politicians would ever agree to this, ever.
- Encourage Classroom Teachers to Serve Jury Duty During Noninstructional Summer Months: Haha, nope.
- End City Contributions to Union Annuity Funds: Yes, we all would love to see all municipal workers immediately go on strike.
- Commuter Tax Restoration: How many deaths will this die? We all want it, but it's just such a shame to watch our friends upstate just laugh and laugh at us as we hold out our hands.
- Establish a Four-Day Workweek For Some City Employees: Once again, nope.
Wouldn't That Be Nice?
- Personal Income Tax Increase For High-Income Residents: Would help fill budgets gaps by taxing people who actually can afford it, but with tax rates for the wealthiest New Yorkers already high, don't expect to see this any time soon.
- Eliminate the Property Tax Exemption For Madison Square Garden: What? They're not paying property tax? It's true. But that doesn't mean they will anytime soon, as the Governor vehemently opposes it.
-Tax Single-Use Disposable Plastic Bags: This would help the environment, but probably disproportionately impact the poor. The city could just ban them instead. I would love to see an alliance between big soda/big plastic bag.
Hey, We Should/Could (Given Enough Political Will) Do This!
- Extend the General Corporation Tax to Insurance Company Business Income: Insurance companies make a ton. This tax wouldn't put them out of business and would be a windfall for the city.
- Charge Rent to Charter Schools in Shared Facilities: With our schools in a state of bad disrepair, it's a shame that these co-located schools aren't asked to pay for their spaces.
-Toll the East River and Harlem River Bridges: Ah, the Billion dollar solution. It would raise an insane amount of money for the city, discourage drivers from entering clogged-Manhattan, and could revitalize our public transportation system. Let's do it, please, please, please.