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$86 Million In Driving Perks For State Employees

by on March 15, 2009

It is nice to know while those of us in the private sector struggle through this economic slowdown, New York state employees are riding in cars and using gas that we, the taxpayers, are paying for. And we are paying big. Some even get chauffeurs.

While the rest of us tighten our belts, state employees buckle up in free cars provided to them by the state – paid for and gassed up with $86 million in taxpayer money this fiscal year alone, a Post probe has found.

State department heads and commissioners are the most privileged, getting their own drivers and cars from the state’s fleet of nearly 14,000 vehicles. But thousands of other workers also get to use state sedans, SUVs and minivans, instead of their own wheels, to do their jobs – with some even given state gas cards and permission to take the cars home. 

And can you believe that Governor Paterson’s office defended the use of taxpayer-funded drivers?

Gov. Paterson’s office defended the use of the drivers, saying some commissioners were required to travel extensively and “use the car as a private workspace in order to maximize their time.”

Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein said all agencies were reviewing spending, including car usage, as a way to cut costs. The state is facing a $14 billion budget gap in the coming fiscal year.

The state’s passenger vehicle inventory stood at 13,680 on Feb. 12, according to the Office of General Services, which keeps the tally but said it could not provide comparison data for last year.

The vehicles in the inventory include the sedans and SUVs used by state officials as well as minivans to drive residents of group homes and vans to transport inmates. State Police cars are not in the count.

All state agency heads are entitled to cars with unrestricted use, including commuting. 

Ain’t it great to be a New Yorker?

One Comment
  1. setting you straight permalink

    Frankly, this is an ignorant comment. If, say, an electric company employee has to travel to an out of town site to make repairs, would you expect him/her to drive their own car? I work for the state. My job frequently takes me to areas far from Albany. If I take my own car, the state is required to pay me a mileage rate. If I take a fleet car, the state winds up paying a lower cost per mile traveled. In fact, due to the budget crisis, state employees have been told that then cannot drive their own cars on state business because it is more expensive.

    As for taking cars home….I live 20 miles west of Albany. If I have a site visit or a meeting west of Albany, and have to leave in the morning, yes, I do take a state car home. It saves an hour driving to Albany to get the car and then driving back west. That’s an hour during which I am on the clock. And, by the way, I’m prohibited from using that car for personal purposes.

    I’m not at the level that gets a driver. But I can say that time driving is indeed wasted time. So I don’t hold anything against the commissioners who have a driver and can work while in transit. In fact, I really appreciate when there is somebody taking the trip with me who can do some of the driving so that I can read reports, return phone calls and check email while on route.

    Your hidden assumption that state employees get a free ride is way off the mark. Most that I know are hard working, dedicated professionals who put up with not having the resources to do the jobs that we were hired to do.

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