Across New York State, years of generous and sometimes overly generous benefits have made government pensions unaffordable. Thanks to contract sweeteners and giveaways by Albany politicians, New York City’s pension costs have risen more than fivefold, to $8 billion this year from $1.3 billion in 2002. Other communities are in similarly tough straits.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has outlined a major pension reform for new city and state workers that could offer desperately needed relief. It would change pension offers for future state and local workers, including teachers and fire and police personnel, bringing their contributions and benefits closer to those of employees in other states.
The governor estimates that over the next 30 years, the pension fix, which has the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many other mayors, could save $30 billion for New York City and $83 billion for other state and local workers.
Under the proposal, new hires would contribute 4 percent, 5 percent or 6 percent of their salaries for their pensions depending on their pay levels, compared with 3 percent for workers hired recently.
Many government employees in the state can currently retire at age 62 and receive a full pension. Mr. Cuomo would increase the retirement age for most employees — except for police and fire personnel — to 65. In New Jersey and Maryland, retirement age for most workers is 65, and in Rhode Island it will be 67 starting in July.