Wake up, NIFA! The PBA deal is a good one.

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Even Newsday, in an editorial opposing NIFA’s lifting of the wage freeze, acknowledged, “With 500 expected to retire in the next few years and the same number to be hired, these pension and health care modifications would be substantial. The proposed contract has additional police concessions: changes to how time off can be taken, a slight slowing of how quickly top-salary grade is reached, and civilianization of about 50 positions. These, too, would save millions of dollars per year in pay and overtime.”

Does NIFA have a right to impose a countywide wage freeze? It appears so, but the authority must be forgetting that a federal judge ruled in February that it did not have the authority to impose a freeze on contractual pay hikes and annual increases.

The PBA has already agreed to drop its federal lawsuit against Nassau County if this new deal is passed.

NIFA has publicly criticized Mangano’s contract proposal. Its board of directors issued a statement citing “questionable wage deferrals that cannot be used to balance the county’s budget, which is supposed to be in the black by 2015.”

NIFA board member Chris Wright publicly stated that in order for NIFA to lift the freeze, “the county would have to match the $100 million in savings elsewhere.” Wright was referring to the annual amount Nassau currently saves due to the 2011 wage freezes.

Taxpayers are the real losers here. To have NIFA say no when a federal judge ruled that the wage freeze is illegal is crazy. The $320 million in savings laid out in this proposal will be abandoned, and the federal courts will have no choice but to rule in the PBA’s favor.

If this is the case, Nassau County would be forced to pay approximately $230 million in back pay to Nassau’s police officers. Is this really what taxpayers need?

If you look at the bigger picture, this proposal would put another dent in the $300 million deficit left by the Suozzi administration. NIFA’s bureaucracy and political agenda are getting in the way of effective, responsible government.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.

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