Like mosquitoes in warm weather, schemes to boost the already generous pensions of state and local government workers return to Albany every year.
According to the Empire Center for Public Policy, lawmakers introduced no less than 52 pension sweeteners this year — seven of which passed both houses and are eventually headed to Gov. Cuomo’s desk.
The Legislature votes for these bills only to curry favor with public employee unions that help them get reelected — a habit that has driven benefits far beyond the norm in the private sector and stuck taxpayers with an unsustainable tab. The cost to city government this year alone is $8 billion, 12 times what it was 15 years ago.
To put a lid on the crisis, Cuomo in 2012 pushed through trims to benefits that were projected to save $80 billion over 30 years.
Because the state Constitution bars cutting pensions of workers already in the system, the reforms apply only to employees hired since 2012 — and still leave them with more than adequate retirements to look forward to.
Yet legislators tried to roll back Cuomo’s good work with giveaways that — once approved — are lifetime commitments.
Disappointingly, Cuomo supported a too-costly improvement in disability benefits for New York City police and firefighters. But neither the union-backed version nor Mayor de Blasio’s more affordable alternative made it through the Legislature.
What did pass are boosts aimed at certain veterans, police, firefighters, court workers, state university cops and Long Island sheriff’s department employees. Veto. Veto. Veto.