At least 849 public employees have received special permission to collect government paychecks while also collecting public pensions, according to data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.
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.
Pension system investments "are all in danger of veering off the road, just at different speeds," the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon said in October.
“It’s definitely an outmoded way to fund retirements when you look at how the private sector has moved toward defined contribution retirement plans,” Girardin said. “Every year we remain in the pension business, we’re putting taxpayers who haven’t even been born yet on the hook for paying benefits 50 or 60 years from now.”
Pensions averaged $68,334 for teachers and other professionals who retired in school year 2015-16 after working at least 30 years in New York State public schools.
The New York State Teachers' Retirement System (NYSTRS) will reduce its pension contribution rates for a third consecutive year in 2017-18, even though the pension fund's investment returns came in well below its target rate in fiscal 2016.
The Empire State's largest public pension plan still has not fully recovered from the financial crisis and Great Recession of 2008-09, a new report from the state comptroller's office confirms.
Fiscal watchdogs note many elected officials initially didn't have to worry about pension costs a decade ago. Now the rates are closely watched for what they could mean for property tax bills.
"Pretty much the entire generation of state and local elected officials took office and came into their own during a period when pension costs were artificially low or rock bottom," said Empire Center President EJ McMahon.