Tuesday will be the 10th anniversary of a state legislative landmark: the creation of a new public-pension “tier” reining in the explosive cost of state- and local-government retirement benefits in New York.
While Tier 6 wasn’t the “bold and transformational” breakthrough touted by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2012, it was a solid net positive for taxpayers, building on incremental changes in the Tier 5 pension reform enacted two years earlier. (Tiers 5 and 6 cover most occupations other than police and firefighters, who belong to other pension plans modified in different ways by the same legislation.)
The reforms have saved billions of taxpayer dollars for the state and local governments over the past decade — including $1 billion this year alone — plus significant added savings for New York City’s separate pension systems.
Read the full op-ed here.
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New Yorkers are aghast that the Buffalo Bills stadium deal, which will fill the pockets of a wealthy NFL team owner with their tax dollars, is in the state budget the Legislature just adopted.
Polling this month showed that two-thirds of the nation’s teachers would prefer to stay out of the classroom this fall, and teachers unions across America are poised to keep schools from reopening. The unions say the safety of their members is their top concern, yet, truth is, their bottom lines are just as critical.
That’s because the pandemic represents their biggest financial threat since teachers won the right to stop paying them.
Unemployment insurance programs are meant to help people who become jobless through no fault of their own. Nearly every state has disallowed benefits to employees who are on strike. But New York’s state Senate recently voted to let strikers get benefits one week after walking off the job—essentially putting them on equal footing with those who are laid off.
The state-city deal to bring one of Amazon’s two new headquarters to Long Island City might at least have provided New York City with another big benefit—a much-needed model of advanced, efficient building practices. After all, Amazon isn’t just a big corporation: It’s widely admired as a global leader in technological innovation.
Instead, it appears the deal will ensure that Amazon is saddled with the same arcane and outmoded construction-union work rules and compensation levels that have saddled New York City with the nation’s highest urban construction costs.
This week’s US Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME was not unexpected — and neither was the agitated, high-volume reaction from Gov. Cuomo and the public-sector union bosses who are his strongest political allies.
What does the Janus ruling mean for the fiscal future of the Empire State, home of the country’s most unionized public sector? It depends, as always, on our elected officials.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed a bill making it harder for government workers to escape labor unions, he said it was just “the first step of the resistance.”
Translation: It wasn’t the last favor Cuomo hopes to do for New York’s powerful public-sector unions in anticipation of the coming US Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which could void state laws compelling government workers to pay dues-like agency fees to unions they choose not to join.
A ruling for Janus would be a win for workers, forcing unions to focus more on treating their members like paying customers — and less on squeezing taxpayers.