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.

About the Author

Ken Girardin

Ken Girardin is the Empire Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Read more by Ken Girardin

You may also like

Sluggish in September: NY job growth still trails U.S.

New York's employment recovery slowed to a near halt in the crucial month of September, falling further behind the national growth rate in the 18th full month since the pandemic hit in March 2020, according to and federal monthly job reports. On a sea Read More

The Health Department’s response to a FOIL request for nursing home data triggers 2020 déjà vu

Despite Governor Hochul's promise of transparency, the Health Department keeps responding to requests for COVID data with tactics from the Cuomo administration Read More

Hochul’s Emergency Order Imposes Insurer Restrictions Sought by Hospital Group

Buried in Governor Hochul's emergency order on health-care staffing is a temporary bar against insurance companies challenging claims submitted by hospitals–and an influential hospital association is taking credit. Read More

Home Care Agencies Project Widespread Staffing Shortages in the Next Phase of New York’s Vaccine Mandate

Agencies providing home-based care to elderly and disabled New Yorkers face a large-scale loss of employees when the next phase of the state's vaccine mandate takes effect on Oct. 7, according to a newly released industry s 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

As leaves turn, NY’s post-pandemic recovery still has very far to go

Entering the second autumn since the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020, the pace of New York State's pandemic economic recovery has been abysmal by almost any standard. New York was the national epicenter of the pandemic, and Governor Cuomo's "" business Read More

More NY job gains in August—but employment needs to rise a lot further

New York's jobs report for August looked relatively strong—but only by comparison, that is, with . On a seasonally adjusted basis, New York gained 28,000 private-sector jobs last month—a growth rate of 0.4 percent, according to . This was double th Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. 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!