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02 24 DiNapoli Pensions Final

02 24 DiNapoli Pensions Final

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Published by B. Colby Hamilton

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Published by: B. Colby Hamilton on Feb 24, 2012
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04/17/2012

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 Friday, February 24, 2012
Hon. Thomas P. DiNapoli New York State Comptroller 110 State StreetAlbany, NY 12236Dear Comptroller DiNapoli,The fiscal crisis facing our taxpaying constituents as a result of skyrocketing pension costs cannot be overstated, and as local government leaders in different parts of  New York State, we strongly support Governor Cuomo
’s push for 
meaningful reform of our pension system. Rising pension costs are, by definition, a long-range problem, andwe are concerned about your dismissal
of local government leaders’ support for 
the
Governor’s plan
 because its impact will not be felt immediately. Your comments suggestthat you may not recognize that the fiscal health of our state and localities in the long runnecessitates pension reform now. The consequences over time of dismissing this crisiswill be deeply painful to citizens and taxpayers
 
 – 
resulting in higher taxes and servicecuts
 – 
and we urge you to
lend your support to Governor Cuomo’s efforts.
 In a recent op-ed, you defended the status quo and criticized those who say that
 pensions are “unsustainable and unaffordable.” But
we know first-hand that the facts onthe ground run counter to your
comments. Pension costs for New York’s localities and
counties have grown by more than 630% over the last decade. These skyrocketing costshave meant less money for our schools, less money for our police departments, lessmoney for job creation, and less money for social services. If pension costs are allowedto continue to grow
 – 
as they will in the absence meaningful reform now
 – 
the level of service cuts and tax increases that will be required to balance our local budgets in thefuture will be devastating. That outcome is unacceptable and entirely avoidable.Government employees deserve a fair and secure retirement. But right now
 – 
inaddition to the fact that providing the current level of pension benefits to the nextgeneration of public employees will be unaffordable for taxpayers
 – 
employeecontribution levels are below the norm: New York public employees contribute less totheir pension benefits than their counterparts in all but three other states. Specifically,only 1%
of New York’s public retirement system revenues
come from employeecontributions, ranking New York 47
th
among all states.This is a long-term problem, and it requires
 – 
immediately
 – 
a long-term solution.That is why we fully support the fair plan for pension reform put forth by GovernorCuomo. The plan would have no effect on current state and local government employeesor retirees. Instead, it would set our pension systems on a sustainable footing by creatinga new pension tier that will provide competitive benefits and offer greater flexibility to

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