The Delta of Spitzer

Bill Weld came out today with a big, clear, simple idea: Eliminate income tax for the first $75,000 of income.

Only hitch: the $6.9 billion price tag. Weld suggested he’ll pay for it by laying off public employees and tossing people off Medicaid.

This should, actually, be the substantive heart of the race for Governor, a job which is largely about steering huge rivers of money here and there. Tom Suozzi got a bit tangled up on NY1 last night when asked about what he would cut to reduce property taxes. (He, too, picked a big Medicaid number, and promised to explain more soon.)

And Eliot Spitzer, who downplays the easy savings from Medicaid, seems to think that he can find money on the margins. In Long Island earlier this year, he told an argument that money for cutting taxes or new spending would come from the “delta” (in the mathematical sense) between the natural increase in state revenues (natural, as long as the economy is good) and the ideally-less-rapid grown in costs.

That’s at best a narrow little fiscal raft, freighted with quite a lot.

(If you want some great comparative numbers on New York State’s spending, Larry Littlefield has the data, with charts, in his lesser-known online reference classic straightorwardly titled State and Local Government Taxes, Spending, Debt, Employment and Average Pay in New York City, Other Parts of New York State, and Other States: Comprehensive, Comparative Data From the Census of Governments. Great data, very clearly presented, if a couple of years old.)

The Delta of Spitzer