It occurred to me recently that new spending bills in NY city should require an “economic impact study”. Just as construction projects necessitate an environmental impact study in order to assess the pros and cons and to find out the true cost, the same process should be applied to economic legislation.
To illustrate my point: Mayor Bloomberg passed an ordinance in NYC outlawing smoking in bars. He enacted this so people would not have to work in a smoking environment, but his constituents should have the right to know what the economic cost was in terms of reduced tax revenue! If there had been an economic impact study on this or any similar legislation, the taxpayer would have had the opportunity to see any fiscal advantages and disadvantages of such a feel-good proposal before it was made into law.
An another example, domestic household help in New York State has recently become subject to virtually the same employer rules as large companies are, and many people do not get employed because of this obstacle. The unemployment rate among low-wage earners is disproportionately high due to legislation that strangles our economy under the guise of “regulation”, “fairness” or other similar government disingenuous justification.
A final example, my favorite, involves the little discussed change of the name of the Triborough Bridge to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Might the taxpayers of NYC have gone up in arms if they had been told of the tens of millions of dollars of cost incurred for that change to take place — from a name that described the purpose of the bridge to a name that has had no meaningful history with the city?
Conducting an economic impact study on potential law would provide a way to keep taxpayers informed, politicians accountable and reckless spending under control.