North Country lawmakers often describe our part of the state as sort of a polar opposite of New York City, suggesting that Albany and the state legislature cater primarily to downstate interests.
The New York Daily News has a revealing piece this morning about NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to convince lawmakers to cut the city loose from its most onerous state mandates.
At the top of the mayor’s list is ending a decades-old state law requiring the city to dole out $12,000 annual bonuses to retired police and firefighters – a huge outlay that does nothing to make the city safer.
Those are just the bonuses, mind you, and the amounts are set in Albany. Unless Albany relents, that mandate alone will cost New York City taxpayers $600 million.
According to Newsday, that would be enough money to hire back as many as 10,000 school teachers.
[Bloomberg] pointed out that overall pension benefits for retired city workers – which are determined by Albany, often against the wishes of City Hall – chew up 11% of the city’s entire budget.
That’s $8.3 billion next year, up from $1.5 billion in 2001.
Newsday columnist Bill Hammond, describes the response of lawmakers to Bloomberg’s testimony as “clueless.”
Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn questioned the legality of getting rid of the retirement bonuses, since pensions are protected by the state Constitution.
As Bloomberg quickly informed him, those $12,000 payouts are doled out to certain retirees in addition to, not as part of, their already generous pension checks.