State Senator John Flanagan, saying “bold action” is required, urges the Legislature to freeze the salaries of all employees of state government, local governments and school districts.
In an op-ed in Newsday (here), Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, writes:
To be truly effective, the concept must be applied statewide at all levels of government, because whether it’s through state or local taxes, the same money–from taxpayers’ wallets–is paying the bills.
Conservative estimates for school districts alone are that a salary freeze would save at least 15,000 jobs statewide. Teachers from Roslyn and Port Washington have already made the difficult but necessary decision to forego contractually agreed-upon salary increases, in order to save jobs in their districts.
Flanagan goes further than Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo and three other Assembly Democrats, who have called for a freeze on teacher salaries to avoid massive layoffs and property tax increases (here).
In “Blueprint for a Better Budget,” the Empire Center called for a three-year freeze on salaries of all public employees in New York (here).
With the state itself facing a $9.2 billion budget gap–a possible $15 billion hole next year, Flanagan argues:
The idea of a salary freeze has been gaining incremental momentum, but the time to act is now. The savings would be substantial and immediate. New York State: $400 million. Suffolk County: $65 million. Nassau County: $30 million. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority: $100 million. School districts, on average, could address 50 percent of their budget problems solely through a salary freeze–and that has a direct correlation to lowering property taxes.
Flanagan argues state legislators should “declare a fiscal emergency for New York State–this language surely can no longer be considered controversial” and impose a statewide wage freeze. He cites as precedents mandated wage freezes in New York City and Buffalo.
In the past few days, additional editorials weighing in on the topic: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (for the third time, here), Poughkeepsie Journal (here), Watertown Daily Times (here) and Auburn Citizen (here).
The Albany Times Union, whose subscribers include thousands of state employees, tiptoed on the a wage freeze (“…we agree that this year’s 4 percent raises are inappropriate in a fiscal crisis”) while scolding the state Department of Education for wanting to buy $550 desk chairs (here).
Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch
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