Ok, it can’t be a surprise to any New Yorker that it is not just President Trump leaving New York state. According to census data, for the second year in a row, New York state had the largest population loss of any state between July, 2018 and July, 2019.

Just so you know, the top five states with the largest population growths during the same period were Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina, and Washington state. Something else that should come as no surprise is that three of the five have no state income tax. They are Texas, Florida, and Washington state, whereas, according to cnbc.com, New York had the highest state income tax rates. But we have talked about that. Remember that sign — “it’s not the weather ____, it’s the taxes”.

Let’s update a few things that we have discussed in the past which may help you decide if New York state is right for you in the near or long range.
Remember the “pink tax,” where higher prices are charged for women’s products that are essentially the same as the comparable men’s products —  like some deodorants and dry cleaning services. Well, the New York Assembly passed a bill this last summer to address this, but it stalled in the Senate, because of bipartisan opposition. Nevertheless, Governor Cuomo will apparently include this “gender-based pricing discrimination” issue in his upcoming State of the State address, so stay tuned.

Here is yet another “not a surprise” issue. The New York State Thruway Authority’s Board of Directors has approved a proposal to raise tolls effective January 2021, subject to required public hearings on the proposal. The proposal will raise tolls for out-of- state drivers by 15%, so if you do move out of state, and want to drive back to visit, it will cost you more. Also, for those New Yorkers without an E-Z Pass, who have to pay by mail, the tolls will increase by 30% with a $2 processing fee, per billing cycle.  So remember to GET AN E-Z PASS in 2020! By the way, all of this is to help pay for cashless tolls and the maintenance of the superhighway.

Last, do you think that there is any chance that taxes and fees will increase because of the recently announced $6.1 billion budget deficit, mostly due to Medicaid increases?

According to buffalonews.com, there is plenty of talk around Albany about possible major tax hikes on the wealthy, including income and property tax surcharges, and on corporations. Although there is no reporting on talk of increasing taxes or fees for the lower and middle classes, personally, I am not planning on that not happening.

On a different subject, with the schools closed for the holidays, I have found myself watching more television than normal, especially during the day when I am usually seldom home because of my activities in the schools. At any rate, am I the only one that thinks there are many more “weight loss” commercials in December than usual? It’s a war out there among Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Noom.com, and even Tim Tebow and the Ketogenic Diet.

I have to admit that I have spent my whole life out-exercising my bad eating habits. I am one of those old-school people who still believes that it is all about calories in and calories out, with a little exercise thrown in. Interestingly, the nutritionists I talk to say that is still true. But I have to say that some of these weight loss plans are starting to look and sound good even to me, partly because I have memorized all of their important commercial messages that address the more complex, nuanced world that we live in. I still wonder if these programs work long term, but they certainly can give you some ideas if you try them and think through why they are working for you, if they do, and then change some of your behavior and habits accordingly. A healthy weight for life can mean a lot less in medical bills, so that’s the personal finance angle.

Another of our favorite subjects is comparative shopping to save money. If you are a wine drinker, you no doubt already know that you can often save money by buying your favorite wine by the case at the store, which you otherwise know has the best price. Combining that with an occasional promotional price and a mail in rebate, at times you can really save. I did this last week, and, in the end, I saved 40%. So, be on the lookout!

On a final subject, although this change may not affect many of us directly, it may affect us indirectly. In 2019, Congress, in a bipartisan move, which is rate these days, made the most significant changes to the bankruptcy law since 2005.

Without going into the details, these changes essentially will make it easier for many more now-eligible small businesses and family farms to successfully reorganize, stay in business, preserve their jobs and continue to contribute to the economy. In addition, the Honoring American Veterans in Need Act excludes veterans’ disability payments and death-related benefits to veterans and their survivors from being considered disposable income, making many more veterans eligible for much needed bankruptcy relief.

Next month we will look at some quotes from the Forbes book of business quotes. It is something you look at when you really have nothing else to do, but, it turns out that there are some good ones.

One of my wishes for 2020 is that readers will remember that, because of my deadlines, some things that we discuss may have become “old news” by the time the column actually runs.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.