The inevitable is now official: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today said Governor Cuomo should “work out” his proposed Tier 6 pension reform with public-sector labor unions. As the governor himself pointed out just last week, the Legislature effectively prefers to give unions a “veto” over any change–which, if it sticks, means there will no meaningful change at all.

Remember–public pension benefits are determined by statute and do not have to be negotiated with unions. Indeed, since the 1970s they have been a handful of “prohibited” subjects of collective bargaining under the state Taylor Law; i.e., strictly speaking, any change to pensions negotiated with a union is unenforceable.  Unfortunately, both the Legislature and previous governors, most recently David Paterson in 2009-10, have sought the unions’ permission before enacting changes in pension benefits — which is why those changes have not, for the most part, been significant. Tier 5, which unions now like to cite as an example of major sacrifice, mainly restored the benefit structure put in place with their permission under Tier 4 in the early 1980s–before a series of sweeteners over the next two decades.

This is a huge test for Cuomo. If he just wants a deal, any deal, he negotiate some tweaks to Tier 5, call it a landmark, and walk away with far less than he has proposed.

Unfortunately, as reported a few days ago, the governor himself may be initiating pension reform talks with unions.   So it may already be all over except the dissembling.  Get ready for another “landmark”!

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

State Budget Back in the Red

Historically large budgetary surpluses inherited by Governor Hochul are now just a memory with New York facing projected gaps of $13.7 Billion Read More

New York’s health insurance affordability problem gets worse

New York's health insurance affordability gap surged to a new high last year, with state residents paying an average of 16 percent more. Read More

Voters Reject a Pair of Tax Cap-Breaching School Budgets

New York school districts whose budgets were defeated yesterday can hold a re-vote in June on the same proposal or a modified one Read More

State Spending Ante Upped by ‘One House’ Budgets

State spending will rise next year billions beyond what Governor Hochul proposed in her January budget, if the Senate and Assembly have their way. Read More

New Poll: Taxes are Top Reason Residents Looking to Leave New York

High taxes are the top reason New Yorkers are considering or making plans to move out of the state, according to a new Zogby poll. Read More

Answers needed on Governor Hochul’s health-care budget

The health-care agenda laid out by Governor Hochul in her budget proposal this week leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Here are a few of them. Read More

The Health Department takes a big step toward COVID transparency

The state Health Department released a flurry of 20 COVID-related data sets this week, taking its biggest step yet toward full transparency about the state's pandemic response. Read More

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

Subscribe

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

CONTACT INFORMATION

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

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

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!