New York City is losing more than 270 residents each day, more than any other city in the United States, according to census data analyzed by Bloomberg. Driving these residents away from the Big Apple are high taxes, staggering costs of living, and a significant decline in quality of life. While local politicians watch swaths of people pack up and leave, they continue to prioritize rank partisanship over smart policy. As a result, the great exodus is likely to accelerate in the months and years to come.
New York City is home to the highest tax burden in the country with its residents forking over an average 12.7 percent of their income in state and local taxes annually. The federal tax reform law passed by Congress nearly two years ago drove up middle and upper income tax bills even further by capping state and local tax deductions. For many New Yorkers, this extra cost is the last straw, so instead of coughing up the additional cash, they simply move out to low tax havens in red states like Texas and Florida.
Rather than incentivize high earners to stick around by lowering the state and local tax burden, Governor Andrew Cuomo pushes new taxes and fees to raise funds year after year. He and the state legislature extended the 2009 “temporary” millionaires tax earlier this year, prolonging the policy originally set for sunset in 2012. Unfortunately, much of the increase in revenue is offset by the sheer number of workers fleeing. Cuomo announced a “surprise” $2.3 billion hole in the state budget.
Mayor Bill “Big Tax” de Blasio proudly proclaimed in a recent Democratic presidential debate that he wants to “tax the hell” out of the rich. The impact of his confiscatory tax agenda already imposes burdens on the residents in New York City. He and Cuomo have teamed up to announce new “congestion pricing” in Manhattan, a local internet sales tax, and a cannabis excise tax, hitting low and middle income earners hardest.
The staggering price tag associated with a New York City zip code does not end with taxes. The cost of living in Manhattan is almost 140 percent higher than the national average, making it the most expensive city in the country. Brooklyn and Manhattan rents have reached record highs, with median rent for a one bedroom apartment at nearly $3,000. Building restrictions and rent controls championed by the likes of de Blasio have only made this problem worse. Look no further than the last period of overregulation in New York City, before Rudy Giuliani became mayor, when the rate of new apartment construction was sharply reduced, forcing those not on rent control into much higher monthly payments.
While taxes and costs of living skyrocket, New Yorkers who cannot afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars each year for private schools are also forced to enroll their kids in failing public schools. Some districts are far worse off than others. More than half of public school students in Bronx district nine failed the state math test last year, while only 2 percent of students achieved top tier scores. Of all New York City public schools, more than 120 are “in need of improvement,” according to state officials.
De Blasio has assured constituents that he has found the solution to the public school woes with a push to end all screening procedures that place students in schools based on merit in order to combat racial inequality. The efforts would end programs for gifted students as well as testing to determine enrollment in specialized schools. Such action follows a wave of grade inflation that undermines efforts to increase standards. In one elementary school, 100 percent of students passed their English courses, even though only 7 percent of students at the same school passed the state English exam. Watering down education standards is nothing short of the patronizing and demoralizing soft bigotry of reduced expectations.
Meanwhile, violent crime is back on the rise after decades of historic declines. The local murder rate has ballooned 55 percent higher since last year, while reports of rape also spiked. Surely, it does help that attacks on cops have become common occurrences. All the while, de Blasio and his police commissioner James O’Neill have done little to support their men in uniform. Their agenda has been so catastrophic that the New York Police Department union passed a vote of “no confidence” against de Blasio.
It is easy to see why so many residents are packing up and leaving, but it does not have to be this way. For most of its history, New York City has symbolized power, wealth, and innovation. However, greatness can never be taken for granted. Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg brought the Big Apple back from the brink of its darkest days, but de Blasio and his cadre seem completely determined to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
Kristin Tate is a libertarian writer and an analyst for Young Americans for Liberty. She is an author whose latest book is “How Do I Tax Thee? A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.