NY Times Editorial: State Workers and N.Y.’s Fiscal Crisis

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    Mar 06, 2011 9:34 PM GMT
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/opinion/06sun1.html?_r=1

    At a time when public school students are being forced into ever more crowded classrooms, and poor families will lose state medical benefits, New York State is paying 10 times more for state employees’ pensions than it did just a decade ago.

    That huge increase is largely because of Albany’s outsized generosity to the state’s powerful employees’ unions in the early years of the last decade, made worse when the recession pushed down pension fund earnings, forcing the state to make up the difference.

    Although taxpayers are on the hook for the recession’s costs, most state employees pay only 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions, half the level of most state employees elsewhere. Their health insurance payments are about half those in the private sector.

    In all, the salaries and benefits of state employees add up to $18.5 billion, or a fifth of New York’s operating budget. Unless those costs are reined in, New York will find itself unable to provide even essential services.

    To point out these alarming facts is not to be anti- union, or anti-worker. In recent weeks, Republican politicians in the Midwest have distorted what should be a serious discussion about state employees’ benefits, cynically using it as a pretext to crush unions.

    New York does not need that sort of destructive game playing. What it needs is a sober examination of the high costs of wages and benefits, and some serious proposals to rein them in while remaining fair to hard-working government employees.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pursued a reasonable course, making it clear that he expects public unions to make sacrifices, starting with a salary freeze. He wants to require greater employee contributions to pensions and health benefits, with a goal of saving $450 million.

    Negotiations begin this month, but so far union leaders have publicly resisted Mr. Cuomo’s proposals. If they don’t budge, Mr. Cuomo says he will have to lay off up to 9,800 workers. That would damage the state’s struggling economy. Some compromise must be found.


    Read the whole thing. Especially considering the source.
  • GQjock

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    Mar 06, 2011 9:44 PM GMT
    Read the whole thing.

    You Need to Listen to your own words

    The state’s middle-class workers will have to make real sacrifices. New York’s many wealthy residents, all of whom are benefiting substantially from a new federal tax break, should have to pay their fair share as well.
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    Mar 06, 2011 9:55 PM GMT
    GQjock saidRead the whole thing.

    You Need to Listen to your own words

    The state’s middle-class workers will have to make real sacrifices. New York’s many wealthy residents, all of whom are benefiting substantially from a new federal tax break, should have to pay their fair share as well.


    Which in the context of the editorial is a throwaway line considering how they attempted to so deliberately document how much state employees pensions and benefits are costing the state and will continue to going forward.

    Should they decide to tax their way out of having to negotiate with state workers, New Jersey will be the key beneficiary. No word on what "fair share" of taxes means to the New York Times however... especially considering how they already pay most of the taxes in the US.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Mar 06, 2011 10:04 PM GMT
    Nope

    Doesn't hold any water
    Do public employees sometimes have to make sacrifices?
    Yes they do
    Which is what the public employees in Wisconsin HAVE done and are willing to do again
    THROUGH THE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING PROCESS
    a process that is available in NY State as well

    But what you failed to read or specifically over looked was the editor's "Throw away" line
    That the wealthy need to share in that sacrifice as well


    Something they have Not Done AT ALL

    If fact you can say ......... they were and still are part of the Problem
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    Mar 06, 2011 10:13 PM GMT
    Perhaps Mr Cuomo needs to get in touch with the San Diego gov't and find out how they did it.

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    Mar 06, 2011 11:30 PM GMT
    First, I find it hilarious that riddler and others on here think the NY Times is the bastion of liberal or progressive politics. Trust an actual lefty when I say it's not. There are several indicators in this editorial alone, which I'll get to in a minute.

    Second, much of what Cuomo has proposed is reasonable given the fiscal situation of the state. The primary problem, which the editorial did note briefly, is that middle class workers see themselves being asked to sacrifice while affluent and wealthy folks are not. Add to that the increasing realization that Google, Walmart, and other huge corporations are getting away with paying no income tax and we get understandable resentment if not rage.

    The indicators that NYT is only slightly less in the pocket of the wealthy than other sources are:

    Conflation of Private and Public Sector average Salaries

    "The average salary for New York’s full-time state employees in 2009 (even before the last round of raises) was $63,382, well above the state’s average personal income that year of $46,957."

    This is a tired canard which needs to be repeatedly exposed. Like federal public workers, state employees tend to be more educated than their private sector counterparts. Using myself as an example, I earn more than the average public school teacher without an advanced degree. To think that a corporation counsel lawyer for NY State earns anywhere near what an attorney in private practice can is ludicrous.

    Pensions

    "It is also worth considering giving new employees the option to join what is known as a defined-contribution system, similar to the 401(k) plans widely in use in the private sector, and reducing the reliance on a guaranteed benefit system that has proved so ruinously expensive. The 401(k) system shifts the risk of a falling stock market to the employee instead of the state."

    And who will manage these 401(k) plans and rake in the fees? Banks, no doubt. So we'd be more giving business to the industry that blew up the pension system in the first place. The public sector money needs to get out of the stock market. It's too volatile. And to ask employees, whom we've already established earn less to then subject themselves to the ups and downs of the market, is doubly cruel.

    Healthcare

    "Current state employees pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums for single policies, and 25 percent for family policies, which is roughly in line with national averages for the public sector. But it is considerably less than most private workers pay — 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively. "

    Health insurance is the major problem in our country and economy. Unless we start paying doctors for wellness instead of procedures and find a way to manage end of life care, which is by far the most expensive and often unnecessary treatments, our healthcare system is going to drown our country.
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    Mar 07, 2011 1:32 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 saidFiscal crisis in New York State? Huh?

    It's a state that's been run by Democrats for decades - with the exception of 1 governor who was a Republican.

    Democrats have the best ideas and policies when it comes to government finances, taxation, education spending and matters of "the public good."

    No, I'm sorry, I just don't buy into this lie that New York State is having fiscal problems. It's been run by Democrats for too long to even have the slightest inkling of any fiscal problem.


    Ah.. a fresh whiff of SouthBeach hypocrisy. Sure, we've had mostly Democratic governors in New York, but we've had a Republican controlled legislature for decades. So using the logic your favor, which is that everything is the fault of the legislature, the shoe is quite on the other foot. icon_rolleyes.gif