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June 25, 2024
Pension madness in Albany!! 2-27-12
Posted On: Feb 28, 2012
Updated: Mon., Feb. 27, 2012, 12:26 PM home

Pension madness in Albany

Last Updated: 12:26 PM, February 27, 2012

Posted: 12:54 AM, February 27, 2012

In blatant election-year pandering to civil-service unions, five lawmakers are pushing for pension increases for public workers — one of which would cost the city more than $1 billion a year.

As Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo desperately search for ways to rein in runaway retirement benefits before the payouts plunge the city and state into bankruptcy, state politicians are trying to give away the store.

The most expensive perk would benefit thousands of cops, firefighters and correction officers, who would get an additional $12,000 a year.  Currently, about 50,000 employees, those who retired after 20 years, collect the payment.

The proposed legislation extends it to those who retired earlier on three-quarters disability, as well as to their spouses and domestic partners.   “It simply defies all logic that given the current fiscal climate, legislators are introducing bills to increase pension costs rather than reduce them,” said mayoral spokesman Mark Botnick.

The sponsors of the bill, state Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Republican, and Democratic Assemblyman Matthew Titone, both of whom represent Staten Island, claim the cost is “undetermined.’’  Lanza said the bill is not “currently active in the Senate because we’re still working out issues with cost.’’   Titone insisted he is not merely looking for union votes.  “Some of these retirees live out of state and can’t even vote for me,’’ he told The Post.

Other bills would:

* Provide additional pension credits to workers who contributed 3 percent of their salaries toward their retirement for more than 10 years.

That bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Jack McEneny (D-Albany), who estimated it would cost state and local governments $50 million.

* Boost the accidental-death benefit by 3 percent as a cost-of-living increase for widows and children of uniformed officers.

The city estimates a price tag of $2.5 million for the bill, sponsored by state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn).

* Allow “mandatory” overtime to be counted toward pensions, under a bill proposed by Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Queens).

Cuomo is strongly opposed to that practice. City officials say the bill is a “bad precedent for pension reform.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s proposed pension overhaul would scale back taxpayer costs by shifting more pension costs to workers.

He claims the plan would save state and local governments $113 billion over 30 years. It would apply only to newly hired workers.

Currently, the state and localities pay nearly 90 percent of pension costs and the workers contribute just over 10 percent.

The Cuomo plan would split retirement costs more evenly. The taxpayer contribution would be reduced to 4.7 percent of annual payroll. The worker contribution would increase to 4 percent to 6 percent, based on salary size.Additional reporting by Candice Giove


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