One of the great government watchdogs in New York State is the Empire Center for Public Policy, led by EJ McMahon. The Empire Center recently came out with its annual report on overtime costs and the highest earning public servants in NYS.
ALBANY — Genesee Community College President Dr. James Sunser was the highest-paid municipal government worker in the Finger Lakes region, according to the latest edition of “What They Make,” the Empire Center’s annual report summarizing total local government pay.
Despite a year fraught with delayed, canceled and stalled trains, as well as the seventh fare hike in less than a decade, a new study released by Empire Center found that MTA’s overtime rose by nearly 16 percent last year.
The number of LIRR employees who made more than $250,000 increased by nearly 50 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to payroll data found on the Empire Center for Public Policy's transparency website, SeeThroughNY.net.
The LIRR racked up $225 million in OT last year, according to the Empire Center — consuming nearly a third of the $740 million in fares Long Island commuters pay. Put another way, without this burden, the average commuter riding from Huntington to Penn Station every day could pay $253, not $363.
In a consequential win for government transparency, the New York State Supreme Court has ordered a Long Island school district to comply with the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), following years of evasion. In addition to providing its teacher and superintendent contracts, Malverne Union Free School District has reimbursed the Empire Center for Public Policy’s legal expenses.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs have been the subject of two federal corruption trials that ended with convictions for two of Cuomo’s former associates. But some say problems with the $9 billion programs go beyond corruption and that the structure of the programs is flawed.
It’s tempting to dismiss this as political posturing. Unfortunately, the governor’s rhetoric hints that his assault on the public’s right to know might not end there.