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Cuomo's Proposed Pension Reform Met With Union Backlash

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Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that he will introduce a plan to reform state pensions, but union officials say the proposal puts the burden on the backs of workers.

Cuomo says the plan would save the state $93 billion over 30 years.

“The cost of public pensions is going through the roof,” Cuomo told a crowd of supporters at Hofstra University.

According to the governor, paying for the pensions of state workers is unsustainable.

"We have to reduce pension costs or we'll never stop taxes from going up,” said Cuomo.
In 1999, public worker pensions cost the state $1.3 billion. In 2014, the price tag will reach $6 billion.

Current and retired government workers, educators, police and firefighters wouldn't be affected by the state pension reform, but a number of changes would be enacted for anyone hired after the law is passed.

According to state officials briefed on the plan, the minimum retirement age would rise to 65, early retirement would end, new employees would pay twice as much toward their pensions, and pensions for the highest paid would be capped.

"And that’s not to mention the fraud that is currently allowed to happen in the public pension system,” said Cuomo, who would also aim to eliminate the practice of padding.

"In the last few years that a person is working, they do a lot of overtime, they run up their salary and now you have an artificially inflated pension for many, many years, and that's going to be part of this pension reform,” said the governor.

It doesn't appear that New York City workers' pensions are included in the governor's proposal, but the mayor said he believes otherwise.

"It would be disastrous for us if we were not, but the governor has assured me many times we would be 100 percent included in that,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In response to the proposed reform, the Civil Service Employees Association issued a statement saying, "...The governor does not care about the impact of his policies on working people,” and, “The governor is engaging in political grandstanding to impress his millionaire friends at the expense of working people and the services they provide to the people of New York."

It’s unclear when Cuomo will unveil his plan, but the Mayor plans to go up to Albany Tuesday to help him sell it to lawmakers.

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