Welcome to Long Island, home of the six-figure pension
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In a number of cases, these large pensions come from the inflated salaries awarded to public employees by senseless arbitrators. Recently, it became clear to me that these arbitrators are in the pockets of the unions. A few weeks ago, I mentioned how a particular arbitrator, Martin Scheinman, and a panel of his cronies gave 43 Nassau County district attorney investigators a 40 percent pay raise, almost overnight.
County Executive Ed Mangano has frozen salaries and cut the public employee payroll. In the instance of the district attorney investigators, however, his authority was overruled, and 43 public employees received grotesque pay increases that will further inflate their pension benefits.
This is happening all over the state. In order to combat the current binding arbitration system, in his 2013 budget, Cuomo capped the amount that arbitrators can award public employees. These employees can be awarded pay increases of no more than 2 percent, excluding pension costs.
The 2 percent cap reduces the power of crooked arbitrators and puts it back in the hands of elected officials. It’s a step in the right direction.
But we can’t stop there. The governor’s office recently disclosed a new pension proposal for contributions to the state pension fund. The rate entities now pay into the account fluctuates, from virtually nothing to as much as 30 percent. Cuomo wants to set a permanent 12 percent payment rate, thus allowing him to take some of the savings earned through the Tier VI pension reform and direct them toward school districts that have suffered from cuts in state aid and other programs.
I urge our elected officials to take a serious look at this proposal.
At the federal level, budget situations aren’t much better. Take the U.S. Postal Service. This inefficient government entity had $15.9 billion in losses last year alone. People are using “snail mail” less and less. To make ends meet, the Postal Service has decided to stop delivering mail on Saturdays.