What's the [DATA] Point?

What's the [DATA] Point? is a podcast by Citizens Budget Commission and Gotham Gazette on New York State and City policies.


It's hosted by Ben Max, Executive Editor of Gotham Gazette, and Maria Doulis, Vice President of the Citizens Budget Commission, and produced by Kevin Medina and William J. Rice.


Stream below or download on your phone via iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.



Episode 22 - 10 years

December 06, 2017
10 years is the amount of time the de Blasio administration says it will take to shut down Rikers Island.

Special guest Michael Jacobson is the executive director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. He was once the City's Correction Commissioner as well as the Probation Commissioner.  He is a member of the Lippman Commission, convened by the City Council to solve the crisis at Rikers. Michael joined the podcast to discuss the Commission's findings--namely to close Rikers and move the inmates to facilities near courthouses and civic centers throughout the boroughs.

Episode 21 - $26 billion

November 30, 2017
$26 billion is the amount of property taxes the City will collect this fiscal year-- it is the largest single source of revenue that funds NYC government. Special guest Martha Stark is a former Commissioner of the Department of Finance. She joined the podcast to discuss the complexities of the system for valuing and taxing real property and explained why reform is badly needed.

Episode 20 - 44 days

November 16, 2017
44 is the number of days left in term-limited Council Member Daniel Garodnick's tenure. Council Member Garodnick has been a voice of reason in the City Council, having raised important questions about the city budget, economic development, and contracts. He chairs the City Council's Committee on Economic Development, is on the budget negotiating team, and in his final months has been fighting to pass reform of the commercial rent tax.

Episode 19 - $67 Billion

November 09, 2017
$67 billion is the amount of state and local taxes New York State residents deduct from their federal tax returns each year. Known as SALT, this deduction is the topic of intense debate in Washington. Congressional leadership proposes to eliminate or cap SALT in order to offset the cost of corporate and other tax cuts.

Special guest Jay Kriegel, Senior Advisor at Related Companies, is a New York communications and strategic advisor who has been involved in a number of major New York political and policy initiatives. In 1986, Jay led a national coalition that thwarted an attempt to eliminate the SALT deduction, and today he has taken a leadership role in the coalition to protect it.

Episode 18 - 348 and 74

November 02, 2017
The data points are 348 and 74.

348 is the number of Local Development Corporations and Industrial Development Agencies in NYS. These corporations made $16.2 billion in economic development investments from 2011 through 2015, yet only 5 of the state's 62 counties have had job growth higher than the national average. For this half of the podcast WTDP is joined by CBC Research Associate, Riley Edwards, author of the recent report: "Opaque and Duplicative - Local Economic Development in New York State."

74 is the number of Business Improvement Districts in NYC. CBC's report "BIDS - Organization, Oversight, and Transparency" describes the history and nature of these organizations, what services they provide, and whether property owners are getting their money's worth. WTDP is joined by CBC's Director of Research, Tim Sullivan, to explain.

Episode 17 - $95 billion

October 25, 2017
This episode's datapoint is $95 billion, the current value of all of the future retiree benefits, except pensions, already earned by current retirees and employees of NYC. This amount, referred to as OPEB, or 'Other Post-Employment Benefits,' is primarily the cost of health insurance for NYC employees, their spouses and families. Special guest Dr. Thad Calabrese of NYU, and author of CBC's latest report on this subject, "The Price of Promises Made," gives an in-depth look at the City's OPEB obligations, compare them to those of other cities around the country, and explains why the City should establish more appropriate benefits and funding arrangements.

Episode 16 - 1936

October 19, 2017
This episode's datapoint is 1936, as in the last time that voters in New York chose to call a convention to amend the state constitution. It is a question that is mandated to be on the ballot every 20 years, and after it was voted down by voters in 1957, 1977, and 1997, we are again at the 20-year mark here in 2017. Today's special guest is Dr. Gerald Benjamin of SUNY New Paltz, an expert on the constitution and the convention process.

Episode 15 - 60+ years

October 12, 2017
This episode's datapoint is "60+," as in the combined years of professional experience of special guests Renee Boicourt and Kent Hiteshew in matters of public finance. Listen to a live recording from CBC's recent event, "Fiscal Crises," where our expert guests discussed lessons learned from the bankruptcy of Detroit and the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico.