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.”


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.


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:

You may also like

Meanwhile, on the mandate relief front

Governor Cuomo’s 2012-13 budget, to be presented later today, will command media attention for the rest of the week. Advance reports on his modified pension reform proposal are especially promising. Meanwhile, there’s a (fiscally) cost-free approach to helping local governments and school districts alleviate their budget problems: repealing the Triborough Amendment. Read More

Legislature rejects union arbitration cap

Governor Cuomo’s proposal to cap arbitration awards for police and firefighters is not included in the Senate or Assembly budget bills. This may be blessing in disguise: as argued here, Cuomo’s original proposal didn’t go nearly far enough. Since the arbitration law expires on June 30, the governor remains in a commanding position to demand more. Read More

Labor costs rose faster in public sector in ‘09

Employee compensation in the state and local government sector increased at twice the private-sector rate during the 12 months ending in December, according to national data released todayby the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read More

Getting Triborough wrong

“Mandate relief remains elusive,” is one of the state-related headlines in today’s Albany Times Union — and that much, at least, is true. Unfortunately, the articlebeneath the headline repeats a familiar canard about the origins of the Triborough Amendment. Read More

Persuading co-workers to retire

Oneida County employees participating in a proposed cash buyout program would have a strong incentive to get their co-workers to join them: their payments will increase if more employees participate. Read More

Examining MDs

Should physicians, who are licensed by the state of New York, be required to take a civil service exam in order to work for the state of New York? A state judge thinks so, but that's unlikely to be the last word on the controversy. Read More

Teaching without contracts

As schools open, the number of school districts at impasse with teacher unions has increased by 12 percent since a year ago, according to the Public Employment Relations Board. Also noteworthy--although not emphasized by PERB--nearly one out of three school districts has yet to negotiate a new contract with its teachers. Read More

Car 54, where are you?

New York City will track the whereabouts of its 379 building inspectors with GPS technology installed, not in their city-issued vehicles, but in their cell phones. Read More


Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.


Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries:

Press Inquiries:


The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!