Business Leaders and Town Officials Push Pension Reform

Issue cuts across partisan boundaries
Rockland County Times
Orange County Chamber President John D'Ambrosio, Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips, Business Council President Heather Briccetti, and RBA President Al Samuels stand together to push for pension reform in the State of New York

A bipartisan group including Orange County Chamber President John D’Ambrosio, Haverstraw Town Supervisor Howard Phillips, Business Council President Heather Briccetti, and RBA President Al Samuels said in a unified voice that the costs of pensions, are “unsustainable.” Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence also supported the message, although he could not make it to the event.

The business organizations on hand represent thousands of members. They are aligned with an organization called the Committee to Save New York (CSNY) in pushing local officials to call on the state legislature to support Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Tier VI Pension reform plan. “The governor’s plan to reign in the state’s out-of-control pension costs is smart legislation that will provide local businesses the kind of tax relief they need,” said Samuels. “Easing the pension burden will afford local businesses the ability to invest in expansion, new business development and innovation, which benefits everyone.”

Cuomo’s has proposed a Tier VI Pension Plan that proponents say would save the state upwards of $123 billion over the next 30 years. A joint press release said, “The plan would establish a new benefits system for future employees offering them the option to participate in either a traditional, but less generous, plan or a 401(k) type program that is more flexible and permits for career growth. No current workers would lose their pensions, and all reforms would only impact pensions for public employees who have not been hired yet.”

“Taking care of our public employees after their decades of dedicated service is the right thing to do,” said Christopher St. Lawrence, Supervisor of Town of Ramapo, in the press release. “But, continuing a wasteful and costly pension system, while local school districts and fire houses are forced to close, is not a reality. Reforming the state’s pension plan for new employees will put our costs in line with other states across the nation and preserve the invaluable services, like education and public safety, that make New York the best place to live, do business and raise a family.”

CSNY claims the taxpayers in the Empire State pay on average $574 each year to help cover the cost of public pensions. New York’s public pension tax burden is the second most costly in the nation, trailing only Alaska who benefits from rich oil and minerals deposits. Unsurprisingly public unions have a different interpretation of the new law, they say it is merely a cutback in their benefits package. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who largely owes his electoral success to public sector unions, has backed them up in opposing the Tier VI reform.

At the press conference Haverstraw Supervisor Phillips said, “My colleagues have asked if I could speak on their behalf. In 10 years pension costs have gone from $40,000 to over $2 million. I am urging all residents to get behind Governor Cuomo’s reform.”

He noted that the new plans which are similar to “438Ks” are actually popular among public sector employees when they are given the choice to use them, because they have increased potability.

Bruscietti said public employees currently have benefits that are, “unreasonable…and not supported by the private sector or elsewhere in the world.” She also said that the new tier would only apply to new employees and that most employees opt for the 438K style plan when given a choice.

D’Ambrosio said referencing a famous quote, “We have a public sector that the private sector can no longer afford.