Last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through a pension "reform" that was similar in its broad outlines to the changes backed by Democratic governors in several other states: a modest, same-but-less approach that preserves defined-benefit pensions, at somewhat lower benefit levels tied to somewhat higher retirement ages, requiring higher but still fixed employee contributions, applying to newly hired employees only.
Cuomo floats a pension gimmick
Local governments and school districts around the state dutifully applauded, and then began complaining that the new system, known as Tier 6, still wasn't giving them short-term relief from still-rising pension costs. Moreover, Cuomo has been unwilling to back other forms of relief for fiscally stressed localities -- especially significant changes to collective bargaining rules, including at least one significant provision unique to New York, which handcuff cities and schools anxious to control rising employee compensation costs.
Responding to the continued clamor, Cuomo this week presented a 2013-14 state budget that included a proposal purporting to immediately reduce pension costs by up to 43 percent while committing to pay a "stable" pension rates for 25 years. It sounds similar to quick fixes adopted in states with much bigger pension solvency problems, like Illinois and Pennsylvania. I review the proposal in more detail here, concluding that the governor's plan is both fiscally unwise and, quite possibly, unconstitutional.
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