1.29.2006

Income Disparity in New York State

This article from Friday's New York Times states that "Income Gap in New York Is Called Nation's Highest." It's sad, but not surprising. Read it and weep.

Highlights, or, more accurately, lowlights:
The average income of the richest fifth of New York State families is 8.1 times the average income of the poorest fifth, according to the study, which drew from census data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, two liberal research groups based in Washington....

Tax policy played a role in the widening of the gap over the years, according to the study, which adjusted income for federal but not state taxes. On the state level, Gov. George E. Pataki has proposed another slate of personal income tax cuts and rebates, and more than half of the value of the package would go to the state's wealthiest 10 percent.

"We've made taxes less progressive — we've cut the top rate by more than half since the early 70's, and Pataki's proposing to cut it again," said Trudi Renwick, a senior economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute in Albany, a liberal group that collaborated in the income study and presented its own report on New York....

E.J. McMahon, a budget expert at the conservative Manhattan Institute, attributed the large income imbalance to "the large number of foreign immigrants in New York, who are largely poor, unskilled workers."

"To me, the whole focus of this report is, in my view, totally misplaced," said Mr. McMahon, adding that the more important question was what was keeping workers from moving from one income strata to another. "One barrier is education, or the lack of educational attainment, and that would imply that we need to focus on making schools better," he said.

Ms. Renwick cited a court order to pump billions into city schools, which Mr. Pataki is appealing.

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