Top state pension: $261K

You probably don’t need to see this right now, what with the state deficit, threatened layoffs, school aid cuts, highway delays, and so on.

But it’s lunchtime, and time to check the Albany bloggers. The DN’s Daily Politics gets extra dessert for passing along the news that New York’s top paid pensioner is collecting just a tad over $261,000 a year. That includes local government retirees as well as  police and fire retirees, but not New York City.  (Full disclosure: my dad earned a nice retirement by toiling for 25-some years in the OMRDD bureaucracy. But  nowhere near THAT nice!)

The Times Union blogger, Celeste Katz, got her information from the Empire Center for New York State Policy’s SeeThroughNYEmpire Center is a branch of the Manhattan Institute.

Who is it? George Phillips. What did he do? Headed the state Teachers’ Retirement System. There’s lots more, including a list of the top pensioners,  in the DN’s post.

17 Comments on “Top state pension: $261K”

  1. Dan says:

    I’ve toiled in the the NFPs overseen by OMRDD for more than 30 years, from peon to big shot. I remember too many years when we didn’t get a cola beacuse our funding didn’t allow for it.

    I can’t afford to retire.

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  2. mervel says:

    I love it, the head of the state’s largest pension system gets the biggest pension.

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  3. For context before anyone gets to irate over the NYS pension system remember that the average NYS pensioner gets around $18K. There is a problem when some people get so much, but they are a minority.

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  4. Bret4207 says:

    Wow. I don’t even make near the average of the PFRS. I was a slacker I guess.

    Did anyone notice a lot of public authorities listed there? NY Power Authority, Port Authority, and lots and lots of health care workers. THis bodes well for the future…

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  5. Bret4207 says:

    Jmaes Bullard- Lets remember that there are a lot of older workers still drawing and that brings the average down. I know a lot of guys that retired making under $40 K a year, they went out on half pay. That’s not a lot of bucks in todays market.

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  6. scratchy says:

    James Bullard,
    There are a lot of retired small town elected officials who draw a small pension. That lowers the average.

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  7. The information is incorrect. The highest payment to an individual in any one of the New York State Retirement Systems is William Hudderford, a retired Superintendant of Schools in the Commack School District. Mr. Hudderford receives in excess of $330,000 a year. He retired in 2006. This means that the Commack School Board paid him somewhere near $500,000 for each of his last three years of employment. This borders on fraud. He was receiving 40% more than any other Superintendant in the entire state.
    The attorney general should investigate this.

    The tax payer in the Commack district should be incensed on both their own behalf and behalf of all taxpayers in the state. It also gives a bad name for the state retirement systems. Both Mr. Hudderford and the Commack school board should not only be embarrassed but I think they should go to jail.

    Mr. Bullard is right. I know some retirees who receive less than $8000. In a nutshell the system has some real unfairness built into it.

    My information comes from the New York State Retirement System on line.

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  8. Martha Foley says:

    Hi Bret —

    I did notice that the Port Authority appeared to be a pretty good place to end your working days, and so did the NY Post:

    “…the data released yesterday includes the Port Authority work force, and the figures show why the PA could be called the Pork Authority.

    “Of the 100 top pensioners in the pension systems administered by the state, 27 were PA employees — mostly police officers. Motorists who pay tolls at PA bridge and tunnel crossings help finance the bistate authority’s operation.

    “Empire Center spokeswoman Lise Bang-Jensen attributed the skyrocketing jump in pensions to higher salaries and massive overtime that permits workers to pad their pension in their final years of service.”

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  9. Bret4207 says:

    Mr. Liotta, “Mr. Bullard is right. I know some retirees who receive less than $8000. In a nutshell the system has some real unfairness built into it”.

    Sorry sir, but I think to call the system “unfair” is inaccurate. I also know people retired from the state making less than $20K a year, but they retired long ago. That’s not unfair, that’s just changing times and inflation. There are very limited COLAs in state retirements. IIRC I’ll qualify for a partial COLA when (if) I hit 65.

    What’s the lesson in this? Plan or your retirement. Times change and what seems like a mint today might be pennies in 20 years.

    Martha, I’ve seen some of those figures from downstate. I can only relate to my former employer, but they were usually death on over time. Even today they still authorize it in 15 minute increments. I would think the supervisors bear some responsibility in that respect.

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  10. Sunshine says:

    I’m astounded!
    I don’t make as much money working full-time in a school system as many of these retirees receive as a pension.
    Where oh where have I gone wrong?
    Don’t tell me that working to help make the world a better place is wrong.
    I just knew that I should have been a capitalist instead of a humanitarian.
    And so it goes…

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  11. mervel says:

    But those guys ARE humanitarians at least on paper; these are all PUBLIC pensions which today are better than what the private sector capitalists are paying.

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  12. Bret4207 says:

    All UNION jobs too.

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  13. mervel says:

    If you look at those NYS public authorities which are given control of a monopoly revenue source be it bridges/tolls, power supplies; they are much like when the King would grant specific control to a group to plunder a certain area or like in Russia where the oligarchs are granted monopoly power over energy etc. So they have this tremendous extra governmental power they are not accountable to anyone, it really at its core is undemocratic and think goes against the ideals of this country in many ways.

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  14. Sunshine says:

    Why do we always seem to feel that the ‘giant’ is too large to tame?
    I believe it is important to address these ‘giants’, even if it is just a bit at the time. Think of Daniel and Goliath.

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  15. Pete Klein says:

    No problem here. Just get rid of pensions.
    Everyone should work until they die.

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  16. mervel says:

    Pensions are great, just don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Most people know that it makes no sense that someone who works from the age of 25-50 can or should retire with a lifetime annuity paid by the taxpayer until they die 30 years later. Retirement age should be in the 60’s for defined benefit pensions regardless of how long someone has worked there or not and public pensions should not be more generous than the average private sector pension. It is all about balance and perspective. Pensions themselves are great and needed.

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  17. Brian says:

    These pensions are egregious – these are gov’t workers for crying out loud – taking little risk professionally, requiring in most cases minimal intellectual ‘horsepower’ w/almost no risk of being terminated or becoming obsolete.

    For every $50K (with a cost of living increase built in – which most have) in annual pension payout, one would need to have saved about $3,000.000.00. May of these workers retire in their 50’s – as a point of comparison, few people in the private sector have accumulated $3MM in liquid assets by the time they are in their 50’s.

    Here’s the problem – this pension benefit comes to these people from our tax dollars – so essentially we the people are contributing to a pension plan the allows these gov’t workers to retire with an income that is far more substantial then all but the very wealthiest from the private sector. The irony of it all is that most of those Gov’t workers don’t truly realize how substantial their pension benefit is!

    It’s as if the politicians (and every other gov’t or state worker who is a ward of the state) are the wealthy ones. Maybe the postal workers, teachers, cops, garbage men of the world who graduated near the bottom of their classes (or not at all) are really the smart ones and the rest of us are the idiots who support them.

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