School districts that freeze employee salaries would get more state aid under a plan being considered by Albany lawmakers.

This, of course, would require unions representing teachers and other school employees to agree to freezing pay raises, which in some cases exceed 6 percent when longevity steps are included.

The idea of cash-for-freezes is being considered at high levels in Albany, according to Newsday (here–link for subscribers only).

“It’s…apt that we would be trying to reward the districts where there are extra sacrifices,” Gov. David A. Paterson said. “That’s certainly a conversation we would be willing to have.”

(snip)

While not ready to endorse the proposal for New York, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said, “Anything that saves school districts money is something they should generate on their own, and if we can be helpful to them in some capacity we should look at it.”State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), the minority leader, applauded Christie’s initiative but said he could not support the plan if it increased spending.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie proposed a similar plan.

Last month, he called on teachers and staff to forgo a wage hike to save jobs and programs. School districts that did so would receive the money the state saved on Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes because of the freezes. The extra aid totals about $27 million.

On Wednesday, the Empire Center added a “Freeze Public-Sector Pay” feature (here) to its web site. It explains various proposals and offers support from editorial writers.

Phil Reisman, a Journal News columnist, commented on the report in his blog (here):

The other day I ran into somebody who told me of somebody, a public school librarian, who needed only five more years to achieve a retirement pension worth $100,000 a year.

(snip)

I hate the word “sustainable,” but the hard fact is that doling out this kind of retirement benefit in multiples of thousands just isn’t, well, sustainable. So watch now as the fight against huge budget deficits turns to the public unions in New York that have managed to reap generous contracts for their memberships for years.

On Sunday, Senator John Flanagan of Long Island proposed freezing salaries of all public sector employees–state, local and school district (here). Previously, Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo and three other Assembly members called on unionized teachers to forgo negotiated pay raises (here).

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch

Other recent PPW blogs on pay freezes:

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