Union Opposes New York Pension Plan Proposal

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The New York State Public Employees Federation is calling on state lawmakers to reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal for a new pension plan. The governor introduced a bill on June 8 that would drastically reduce the pensions of future state and local government workers.

"The Tier 6 pension plan proposed by Gov. Cuomo will have little effect on pension costs in the short term," says PEF president Kenneth Brynien, who is an AFT vice president. "This is about politics and placating big-business special interests, plain and simple."

Less than two years ago, the state Legislature passed Tier 5, which is projected to save taxpayers $35 billion over the next 30 years. That change increased required contributions and vesting time for new hires.

"The ink is barely dry on Tier 5, but now the governor is proposing draconian pension cuts that would inflict permanent damage on middle-class workers, such as nurses, parole officers, bridge inspectors and cancer researchers, for what is a transient problem," Brynien says.

The average pension for a member of the New York state and local employee retirement system is $18,300. Unlike other states that have huge unfunded pension liabilities, New York's public pension system is fully funded.

"If the budget problems were the true motivator, the state would not have given a tax cut to the wealthiest New Yorkers, sacrificing billions of dollars in revenue in the process," Brynien says. [PEF press release]

June 9, 2011