David Shaffer of the Business Council's affiliated Public Policy Institute had an op-ed in yesterday's New York Post on Dennis Rivera's ability to latch onto New York State funds. Rivera, the head of SEIU's District 1199 has been the linchpin in the efforts of New York City hospitals to effectively lobby for more and more funds and has been able to pull a substantial portion of those funds into 1199's coffers as well.
For now, Rivera is king of the hill, at least in Albany. Every year, he successfully uses his political war chest and his campaign foot soldiers to extract more and more dollars out of the taxpayers, paying for more and more health-care jobs.
But there's a cloud in Rivera's silver lining, and it's this: You can't expect to keep taking unlimited amounts of money away from the taxpayers, once you start running the taxpayers out of town ...
... I recently undertook a detailed analysis of the state's job performance since 1990. Almost any way you slice the years since then, you find both state and city lagging well behind the nation's job growth. Maybe that's no surprise. But here's something that is: From 1990 through 2003, New York state has added few, if any, net new jobs - except jobs paid for by the taxpayers.
We've created many new jobs, and lost many others, for a net gain of about 190,000 statewide. But take out the new jobs financed by government, and it may well be that we haven't created a single net new job in 13 years ...
New York can't go on indefinitely like this, basing its "economic growth" on jobs paid for by a declining number of tax-paying jobs.
Every time taxes are raised, we make it that much harder for businesses to provide real, tax-paying jobs in New York. That means fewer of those jobs - each one paying a bigger share of the cost of growing the number of tax-financed jobs.
That leads to further economic decline. Which, ultimately, will force drastic cuts in the tax-spending jobs, too - just as happened in the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.
Unlike the op-ed, the report doesn't mention Rivera. It does say this:
But it isn't just that these interest groups are powerful; it's almost as though many in Albany have given up hope that anything else can be done about the state's economy ... The catch is that ultimately, as an economic growth polity this will prove self-defeating.
A couple of other observations:
First, Rivera has become the lightning rod. Shaffer's op-ed talks about Rivera by name. Though his report also talks about public sector jobs, Shaffer doesn't single out public sector union leaders in the op-ed. Politically, school aid is at least as contentious and expensive as health care and the teacher's unions have more than a passing interest in those fights. For many around New York, even in the hospital sector and certainly upstate, Rivera has become the bogeyman, probably because he keeps beating them. Are there other reasons?
Second, it's not just business that's paying more; because of how hospital finances are structured in New York, other unions with health benefit funds are also paying a lot more. Their officials may be more quiet about 1199 than business is, but many in the know resent having their funds and members being forced to pay more because of the political clout of the hospital workers' union.
And a question: how many 1199 members read the Post?