New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a splash this morning by announcing a plan "to guarantee health care" for every city resident. Although his office called it "the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation," the proposal appears – based on limited details provided so far – to be a relatively modest expansion of existing safety-net programs.
Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio presented a fiscal 2018 Executive Budget that called for pension contributions totaling $9.6 billion — another all-time high. Yet city pension plans remain significantly underfunded even by lenient government accounting standards, posing a big risk to New York’s fiscal future.
Hizzoner cooked up something nice for his entire staff.
Mayor de Blasio doled out raises to 358 of 360 staffers in fiscal year 2016. That came to a total of $2 million, which included a generous $13,000 raise to the executive chef at Gracie Mansion, who now earns $115,000.
Data compiled by the Empire Center also show 56 City Hall staffers — including 35 who got new job titles — received raises of more than 20%.
The Empire Center found city school-custodian engineers were the highest-paid group of city employees in 2014, earning an average of $109,467.
And their union contract made it impossible to fire them unless they were jailed. Some custodians did stellar work — but many schools looked like dumps.
In what's becoming annual tradition, a handful of bills increasing pension benefits for groups of public employees passed in New York's Legislature this year.
Seizing on the hardships of young firefighters and cops who have received skimpy disability pensions after being forced into retirement by line-of-duty injuries, unions representing the Bravest and Finest are pushing to roll back hard-won pension reforms.
Now we know why the unions fought so hard to keep it a secret: The Empire Center for Public Policy reports that FDNY pensions averaged $100,000 for new retirees these past seven years.
New York City’s pension costs will reach nearly $8.8 billion in the coming 2016 fiscal year — more than double the 2006 level and nearly eight times the 2001 amount.
Yet now, with a week to go in the state legislative session, Albany is poised to drive those costs even higher.