CITY HALL — Six-figure pensions paid to retired city education professionals has more than quadrupled since 2008, according to recent data from Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY, a fiscally conservative think tank.

Last year, some 3,416 New York City Teachers’ Retirement System retirees received pensions of $100,000 or more compared to 3,029 in 2019 and 856 in 2008, according to the data.

This year, the top educator to receive a city pension was a retired Queens College professor who earned $561,754.

A Retired DOE employee was the next top earner who took home a $535,386 city pension followed by another DOE retiree who earned $436,712.

In 2008, former Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina took home the highest pension of $205,108. But last year, 50 retirees walked away with pensions larger than Farina’s in 2008, with at least 11 retirees’ pensions exceeding $300,000 and five topping $400,000.

Additionally, the 838 teachers, college instructors and school administrators who retired in 2017 with at least 30 years of service credit last year received pensions averaging $71,562 — an 8 percent increase from 2016 retirees’ first-year pensions.

Empire Center Analyst Ken Girardin, who looked at the recent education pension data, said rising pensions are not the result of any recent policy decisions, but a result of the current system.

“They are a feature not a bug … these aren’t some unintended consequence of the pension system, these are retirees who put in the time for their pensions,” Girardin said.

Because these pensions are protected under state law, Girardin said there is no way to adjust what current retirees receive, but said the city and state should reconsider pension benefits for future retirees.

Girardin suggested the state put all teachers in a 401K voluntary defined contribution plan which are personal retirement accounts supported by employer employee contributions, which can also follow an employee if they change jobs.

Under a voluntary defined contribution plan, teachers would only need to vest into the system after one year compared to 10 years under the current system.

He said the “dirty secret” with the current teacher pension system is that many teachers actually are never able to collect a pension because if they leave jobs or move before the 10 year vesting period, they will only get their contribution refunded.

“New York City teachers earn their pensions over decades of service to the children of our city, and in many cases, they supplement their pensions with voluntary contributions over many years. While teachers with six-figure pensions are outliers and not the norm, it’s important not to minimize the years of work teachers have put in to educate New York’s children,” said mayoral spokeswoman Marcy Miranda.

© 2019 Staten Island Live

You may also like

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

EDITORIAL: CAN WE AFFORD SIX -FIGURE PENSION AS THE NORM?

Six-figure pensions are becoming the norm among retirees from New York’s largest downstate suburban police departments, according to data posted at SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website. Read More

It’s never simple arithmetic with schools

Earlier this week, the Empire Center did its own report on the plummeting numbers when it comes to students. Overall, the 2019-20 enrollment is at its lowest levels in New York state in the last 30 years. Read More

EDITORIAL: State schools continue spending more for less

As reported by the Empire Center last week, “The number of students enrolled in New York state public schools is the lowest recorded in 30 years.” Since 2000, enrollment in public schools has declined by more than 10 percent statewide with most of it upstate as enrollment in New York City schools has increased 1.3 percent in the last 10 years. Students are not leaving to go to private or parochial schools either because they, too, are showing declines, down about 8 percent in the last decade. Read More

Soon it will be the 1950s again as enrollment continues to drop in New York schools

Mount Morris had the highest increase among any district outside of New York City, according to a report released Tuesday by The Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany. Read More

Pensions New York taxpayers can’t afford

Another day, another shocking Empire Center revelation. Announcing the latest update to its SeeThroughNY database of New York public employee pensions, the watchdog flagged the city government retirees now scoring the highest pensions. Read More

Report: Enrollment In New York State Schools Lowest Since Early 1990s

According to a report from the Empire Center released Wednesday, public school enrollment statewide for the 2018-2019 school year has decreased to levels not seen since the early 1990s. The last school year saw a drop alone of 30,338 pupils from the previous school year. Read More

New research shows New York public schools have the lowest enrollment in decades

SYRACUSE, NY — Public school enrollment in New York is lower than it’s been since the early 90s, according to data compiled over a 10 year period by the Empire Center, a public policy non-profit organization in Albany. 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.

Empire Center Logo "...the Empire Center is the think tank that spent months trying to pry Covid data out of Mr. Cuomo's government, which offered a series of unbelievable excuses for its refusal to disclose...five months after it (the Empire Center) sued, Team Cuomo finally started coughing up some of the records." -Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2021

SIGN UP TO READ ABOUT THE ISSUES IMPACTING NEW YORKERS.