Potential Albany ‘pension pork’ bills could cost taxpayers a fortune

by | Apr 23, 2018 | Press

More evidence of the anti-union and anti-public employee sentiment that the SCOA Executive Board continues to battle every day.  Many of these bills are of the highest priority to all Court Officers and we will continue to fiercely advocate for them and the support they will provide to all of us.  We thank Assemblyman Peter Abbate for his never ending support on these issues and the many others which aid and protect public employees in New York. Your engagement with your local lawmaker is greatly encouraged on this matter.

Article from NYPost.com By Carl Campanile

It’s an election year for all state lawmakers and Albany is looking to deliver the pension pork to their union pals.

There are 119 pension-and-benefit sweetener bills under consideration for public-employee union workers and retirees, and they would cost taxpayers more than $349 million.

And that’s likely a low-ball estimate, because two-thirds of the measures did not include a cost, according to the Citizens Budget Commission, a government- watchdog group.

“All of these bills should be rejected as they would increase taxpayers’ liabilities without improving services. It’s pension pork,” said CBC’s state director David Friedfel.

Some of the measures attempt to free union officials from changes in contract negotiations with local governments while others attempt to undo pension cost controls approved over the past decade, a review of the measures reveals.

The sweeteners include:

  • A bill allowing New York City Corrections workers with less than 10 years on the job to qualify for a three-quarters disability pension.
  • Extending eligibility for a three-quarters disability pension to all state court officers, Department of Environmental Conservation rangers and officers, and campus cops employed by CUNY and SUNY.
  • The measures are championed by Democratic Assemblyman Peter Abbate and Republican Sen. Martin Golden, Brooklyn politicians who chair committees that oversee government workers’ pension legislation.
  • Legislation sponsored by Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) that would increase cost-of-living disability benefits and eliminate Social Security benefit offsets for some New York City uniformed officers at a cost of $47 million.
  • A gift for judges: All 1,271 state judges would be able to use their final year’s salary for pension purposes, forcing the state to pay a retroactive $47 million.
  • Measures that would allow teachers and state prison supervisors to retire early without a reduction of pension benefits, at a cost of $83.5 million.
  • Providing higher disability pension benefits for firefighters by assuming all cancers suffered by smoke-eaters across the state are incurred in the line of duty.
  • Requiring that mandatory overtime be used to determine final average salaries for pension purposes. The proposal, the cost of which is yet to be determined, is being pushed by Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens).

Abbate, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, defended the efforts to boost compensation for workers and retirees.

“These are the people who keep the state running. We have to take care of them,” he said.

But Abbate admitted some of the bills are too costly to implement this year. In particular, he said the early retirement bills, the cost-of-living increases and the pension sweeteners for judges are too expensive to be passed in 2018.

But he added that passing bills to make it easier for court officers and environmental and campus cops to qualify for three-quarters disability pensions remains a high priority.

“These people are on the front lines,” Abbate said.