With much of New York’s economy shut down and millions of taxpayers likely to depend on federal “emergency support” payments to make it through, an immediate pay freeze for all state and local government employees is a must.

We know it’s a bitter pill for those workers, especially the front-line ones still on the job in public, despite the risks. But it’s less of a loss than that faced by those now out of work — and other private-sector folks who will likely face pay cuts even if they keep their jobs.

As E.J. McMahon noted in Saturday’s Post, such a freeze is entirely legal in a crisis like this one. Smaller-scale pay freezes hit in response to the 1970s New York City fiscal crisis and more recently in conjunction with setting up the Buffalo and Nassau County control boards.

The soon-to-be passed state budget is the obvious place to codify a temporary freeze, but if the Legislature won’t go along, the governor will have to use his extensive emergency powers.

Taking this action now will make the inevitable budget-slashing to come much easier. And, again, it’s only sharing with public workers the pain felt by private ones. Indeed, it will also save some public-sector jobs.

McMahon calculates that the combined savings for every level of government will total at least $1.9 billion in the next year. That’s only a fraction of the $7 billion-plus hole the crisis is likely to open in the state budget, to say nothing of the deficits that localities must close. (The city’s looking at a surprise hole of at least $3 billion.)

President Trump, Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and others have all spoken of the need to put government on a “war footing.” This is another part of it.

You may also like

Faced with $10B deficit, MTA says it’s eyeing cutting overtime spending

Alfonso Castillo The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is adding urgency to the agency’s efforts to curtail overtime numbers that critics say remain alarmingly high. The MTA said at Wed Read More

City and state officials contend with a dire future as New York reopens

Brian Pascus As New York begins to reopen from the Covid-19 lockdown, Read More

Pandemic, recession don’t bring down school budgets

Stephen T. Watson This year's school elections were delayed and then shifted entirely to voting by mail thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, which also shut down schools here and across the country. District officials worried this new method of Read More

Here’s Cuomo’s Plan for Reopening New York

Jesse McKinley ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday presented a soft blueprint for how New York State’s economy might begi Read More

States with few virus cases get big share of relief aid

Geoff Mulvihill Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming are not epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet these four states scored big this spri Read More

What to expect in the state’s first round of spending cuts

Rebecca Lewis Regular viewers of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus press briefings have heard the governor say time and again that New York state is broke. Revenue projections are way down and the state is facing a budget deficit that is Read More

Eyeing Medicaid Cuts, Cuomo Puts His Stamp On A $3 Trillion Stimulus Bill

Caroline Lewis During state budget discussions in March, Governor Andrew Cuomo  that the pandemic would not stop him from pushing through changes to Medicaid that he said were necessary to contain the growth of its more than $70 billion annu Read More

Hospitals, nursing homes face another Medicaid cut during pandemic

Michael Gormley ALBANY — The state told hospitals and nursing homes this week that they will be hit with another cut in Medicaid funding as the health care system reels from costs related to fighting the COVID-19 virus and state revenue plum 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
Fax: 518-434-3130
E-Mail: info@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.