ALBANY — Even as Mayor Bloomberg and key local leaders warned state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli yesterday that pension costs are bankrupting the state, a court ruling is blocking New Yorkers from seeing for themselves who’s getting the big-bucks retirement packages.
The state’s highest court has rejected a conservative think tank’s latest legal appeal to require that the New York City Police Pension Fund make public the names of its pensioners.
Other pension funds — which have made public such information in the past — are using the ruling to justify withholding their retirees’ names, too.
The Empire Center for New York State Policy, which sued to add city police pensioners’ names to its online posting of public employee retirees, plans to sue again, said lawyer David Schulz.
“The refusal to make available basic information that people need to understand local payrolls, to uncover fraud and to debate the pension system itself is outrageous,” Schulz said.
Meantime, Bloomberg and other local leaders attacked DiNapoli for resisting Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to cut pension benefits for future government workers — and save $113 billion over 30 years, by Cuomo’s estimate.
“We are concerned about your dismissal of local government leaders’ support for the Governor’s plan because its impact will not be felt immediately,” the group wrote DiNapoli. “The fiscal health of our state and localities in the long run necessitates pension reform now.”
The missive was signed by both Cuomo’s political allies, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and his potential challengers, such as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
The letter cited a 630 percent increase in pension costs to localities over the last decade and the paltry 1 percent public employees now contribute to their retirement benefits — which puts New York’s government workers below those in all but three states.
“Dismissing this crisis” will result in “higher taxes and service cuts,” the letter said.
Cuomo’s plan is vehemently opposed by labor unions. It would raise future government workers’ retirement age from 62 to 65, increase their contribution requirements from a maximum of 3 percent to as much as 6 percent and lengthen their vesting from 10 years to 12 — while offering as an alternative a 401(k)-style “defined contribution” plan portable after a year.
DiNapoli, who controls the state pension funds, has repeatedly argued 401(k)-style plans don’t provide adequate retirement security, but his aides say he believes a discussion about reducing benefits for future employees is “appropriate.”