Nearly six months after being passed by the state Legislature, two bills with significant implications for public pension benefit levels and costs in New York finally have been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his veto or signature.
The broadest of the two measures, A9643A, would expand the share of public pension funds that can be invested in complex, high-risk alternative assets such as private equity and hedge funds. It would raise, from to 30 percent from 25 percent, New York’s statutory “basket clause” cap on such investments.
If Cuomo signs the bill, the New York State and New York City pension funds will move further in the opposite direction from the $300 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), which recently announced it would eliminate its investment in hedge funds due to their “complexity, cost, and the lack of ability to scale.”
Another bill, S7757, would benefit uniformed state court officers hired since April 1, 2012, by lowering their “normal” retirement age to 62 from 63 and restoring the option of retiring at age 55 after 30 years of service. As explained here, the bill would have a minimal immediate cost but would represent the first attempted rollback of any provision of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “bold and transformational” Tier 6 pension package of 2012.
The bills, both of which passed near the end of session in June by lopsided margins with no debate, were sent to the governor on Friday, Dec. 5. His 10-day period (excluding Sundays) for signing or vetoing each measure expires Dec. 17.
Another pension-related bill sent to the governor last week was A9162, which would, as described by the Citizens Budget Commission, “circumvent a recent court ruling by allowing Tier III and V police and firefighters hired between July 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012, who may have been working under an expired collective bargaining agreement, to join an optional 20-year retirement plan without any employee contributions.”