You think the North Country’s state mandates are bad?

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.

Sen. Betty Little is on the mandate relief commission.  We’ll find out next month if issues like this one make the list for reform.

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7 Comments on “You think the North Country’s state mandates are bad?”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    $12,000 in bonuses? Amazing! We need to find out who all voted for that nonsense and make them pay for it out of their own pockets.

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  2. Where’d that come from. State retirees don’t get bonuses on top of their pension. As I understand it NYC police and firefighters are already getting pensions well above average because they can load up on overtime the last couple of years before retiring and end up with pensions that exceed their base salary. State workers can’t do that. I wasn’t even allowed OT. If I worked OT I got comp time (or nothing). If this is accurate it should be looked at closely.

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  3. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    I could be wrong on this but NYC Police and Firefighters have their own separate pension system. Just as teachers have one separate from the NYS Employees Retirement system. I believe there’s five total separate systems in all. Each of these systems typically have separate rules, eligibility, processes for determining actual benefits, rules on pay back for unused sick time, etc. It would appear the awarding of bonuses is also separate.

    This is part of the problem with our pension system. It’s overly complicated, redundant, ripe for abuse, and has different rules for different employees depending upon where they worked and what their job title was. Simplify the entire thing by creating one system. I suspect such reform would lessen the cost to administer these pensions.

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  4. JDM says:

    I’m just saying that this is a symptom, but the disease goes on.

    This is a taste of what turning over control of the nation’s health care will be like.

    Either we recognize the symptoms and kill the disease, or not.

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  5. Bret4207 says:

    Well, this is another example of paybacks from politicians for union support. Chances are this is nothing new, but has been around for some time. I agree, it’s an amazing thing to witness.

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  6. Bobby smith says:


    For some time now the Bloomberg Administration, through the media (especially the New York Post), has been orchestrating a one-sided and often misinformed crusade against the Uniformed Unions’ pension, health and variable supplement settlements. These settlements were achieved through honest, open and fair bargaining with the City and their representatives with respective Union Officers. It seems, as of late, that the City has decided to no longer hold up their end of the bargains, nor to deal with the Unions in an open and transparent manner.
    On Wednesday, January 19th, 2011, Mayor Bloomberg gave his State of the City Address at the St. George Theater in Staten Island. Here is part of the mayor’s speech as it applies to Pension Reform:

    “We can also save another $200 million every year by eliminating, for future uniformed retirees, what is effectively a $12,000 annual bonus, paid on top of full pension benefits every year around the holidays. City taxpayers just cannot be expected to give substantial holiday bonuses when so many of them are out of work or having their own wages frozen or cut.”
    This “annual bonus” the Mayor is referring to is the Variable Supplement Fund (VSF) which was initially created at the City’s urging. The original deal came about at the City’s urging because the administration under then Mayor John Lindsay wanted to be able to invest money from the Police and Fire Pension Funds in the stock market and needed the approval of the Unions. The Unions wanted an improvement in the formula used to calculate what percentage of salary would determine pension allowances for their members.
    The matter went before an arbitrator and during the discussions the Chief City Actuary proposed as an alternative that the VSF be created, with funding only to be provided in years when the performance of stock investments topped that of the City’s bond holdings by a specified percentage

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  7. oa says:

    Oh. A fact. Hmm. Can I still be red-faced with anger then?

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