Governor Cuomo is again postponing pay raises for state employees—giving himself a little more budgetary breathing room without providing similar relief for local governments or school districts.

According to the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), which represents about 65,000 state workers, the Cuomo administration is again postponing scheduled 2-percent raises for CSEA-represented workers “for another three months.” The raises were set to take effect next week after being postponed in April and June.

The move likely also affects unionized correctional officers and state university professionals, whose raises had also been delayed. All told, that affects more than half of the executive branch workforce. The Cuomo administration hasn’t released any formal announcement of the move, leaving the public to get partial information from the affected unions.

The raises were postponed to help the state grapple with a roughly $8 billion COVID-fueled budget gap during the fiscal year that began April 1. The initial 90-day postponement in April saved state taxpayers about $50 million. But as explained here earlier this week, Cuomo should be seeking an across-the-board pay freeze through state legislation.

For starters, a statutory public-sector wage freeze would generate greater first-year savings for state government itself (about $359 million) since seniority-based raises have continued. And it would help school districts, local governments (including New York City) and other public entities such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. All told, such a freeze would save about $1.9 billion in the first year.

Most school districts are bound by union contracts that in July required them to give teachers raises typically ranging from 2 to 5 percent including longevity increases. Now, some of those districts are also laying off teachers to close budget gaps.

There’s another reason for Cuomo to work with the Legislature and adopt a formal pay freeze. His “slushy” administrative approach relies on statutory powers that let his Budget Director and top labor relations official assert raises are “not warranted” or “not appropriate.” But absent a clear legislative declaration, the state could still be on the hook to pay the raises retroactively when its financial position improves—especially if it receives unrestricted federal aid. That means the first few hundred million dollars sent by Congress to stabilize the state fisc could get gobbled up by raises instead of preserving services.

CSEA made it clear that the union expects the state to use any federal bailout funds to finance retroactive raises:

In the meantime, CSEA has been working with the state and our elected leaders at all levels to continue to push for federal stimulus funding to relieve the state’s massive budget deficit caused by the pandemic, to hasten the state’s ability to pay members what they are owed.

You may also like

DeRosa Is Still Hiding the Truth About Cuomo’s Pandemic Response

As the long-time top aide to former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa ought to have useful information to share about the state's pandemic response – especially about what went wrong and how the state could be better Read More

At mid-year, NY still far below most states in pandemic jobs recovery

New York has added private-sector jobs in all but three of the 38 months since the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020—but the Empire State remains below its pre-pandemic employment level and continues to trail the national recovery. On a seasonally adju Read More

Emails Confirm That Cuomo’s Staff Launched Its ‘Book’ Project in March 2020

A pair of state-employed writers began researching, outlining and drafting a book about Governor Andrew Cuomo's pandemic response in late March 2020, weeks before New York's harrowing first wave had passed, according to newly disclosed email records. Read More

The Health Department Releases a Fuller Accounting of COVID’s Deadly First Year

The state Health Department has belatedly published a more complete COVID death count for the pandemic's first year, accounting for more than 6,000 victims who were left out of the state's previous tallies because they died Read More

Emails show Cuomo’s staff working on his memoir at the peak of New York’s pandemic

Newly available records shed further light on the origins of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pandemic memoir, which won him a $5.1 million publishing contract before contributing to his political downfall. The records reveal that his government staff were a Read More

At end of ’22, NY still near bottom in pandemic recovery

The more time passes since the spring 2020 Covid-19 outbreak, the more New York stands out among all states for the weakness of its post-pandemic employment recovery. As of December, seasonally adjusted private employment in New York was still nearly 2 Read More

The AG’s nursing home lawsuits are a wake-up call for the Health Department

Attorney General Letitia James' recent lawsuits against nursing homes have not only exposed dangerous conditions for the residents – but also dangerous blind spots at the Health Department. Read More

The AG’s Nursing Home Lawsuit Scratches the Surface of Widespread Issues

The attorney general's just-filed lawsuit against the Villages of Orleans nursing home has implications that reach far beyond a single facility in western New York. In addition to c Read More