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Retire the Fat Benefits

by on March 20, 2012

New York State is going broke paying people to not work. In the defense of both the check issuers and receivers, neither has ever been notorious for working well. But at least one party may finally be compensated less when they stop pretending to be industrious.

Andrew Cuomo is trying to play against type by making state drones contribute slightly more to their own retirements. It’s never too late to learn responsibility, except possibly in the case of our particularly impecunious state:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Friday changes to the state’s pension program that will require new public employees to work longer before receiving their full retirement benefits and to contribute more of their salaries to the system.

But things would only improve starting. . . now. Old-timers still get to play under the old rules. We have to pay for the sins of the past like a contemporary Clint Eastwood movie minus the gunplay:

Cuomo and other leaders, however, acknowledged that the pension reforms wouldn’t be a panacea. The new regulations only apply to new hires, so it could take decades for the savings to local governments to be realized.

He can blame all those state government before him who threw every bushel of cash they could at state workers, particularly his spendthrift daddy. If Kid Cuomo would like to maintain the delusion that he has a political future greater than his present lot in New York, he could semi-copy the incumbent president’s public relations strategy and write a book called Schemes of My Father.

Of course, the governor will just aim his ire at fat cats wearing top hats:

Pension costs for state and local governments have skyrocketed in recent years because of struggles on Wall Street. When the stock market was soaring, local governments paid little into the pension fund because the interest on the investments in the roughly $140 billion fund was at or exceeding estimates.

Who would think that an economy riddled with excessively oppressive state and federal involvement could ever falter? Even those on the government’s side acknowledge that ordering those last eight tequila slammers was a mistake, especially given how the state’s been operating on an empty stomach for decades:

The state’s rapidly growing pensions costs are one of the most expensive mandates for local governments. In 2002 pension payment from local governments were $1.4 billion and have grown to $12.2 billion in 2012, an increase of over 650%.

Their press release makes clear that our employees still won’t pay much, and those who get more will be punished with an escalating rate. At least they’ll finally know what life is like for everyone else in this progressively nightmarish state:

New Employee Contribution Rates: The new tier increases employee contribution rates in a progressive fashion to ensure lower paid state and local workers are not seriously affected…

These rates remain substantially lower than the large majority of similar state systems around the country.

Oh, because not catching up and making people pay for the privilege to eventually not work a good thing. The bums will have to motionlessly scowl after punching in for an extra year:

Increase of the Retirement Age: The pension reform law includes an increase in the retirement age from 62 to 63 and includes provisions allowing early retirement with penalties.

In addition to having to “work” until their early-mid-60s, state workers will supposedly not get empty calories for free any longer:

Protect Local Governments From State Pension Sweeteners: The new law requires the state to pre-fund any pension enhancers, ensuring that these costs are no longer passed to local governments.

We still fund them at any level, so don’t worry. But it may be too late to feign concern about ruining the economy by enriching the state’s retirees. The current Cuomo hopes the law will dump slightly less dirt on the pile in the living room. We won’t be at the mercy of unions. As much. Starting tomorrow.

At least the law is a tacitly belated admission of just how we ended up residing in a ditch. Still, the measure would only under even the most optimistic projections vault the Empire State slightly ahead of California and Illinois in the Bizarro sweepstakes to not be the state best known for existing entirely to subsidize its dreary public workforce.

Maybe we’ll get really lucky after making state workers cover a bit more of their costs and lose fewer congressional districts than America’s other most notorious workers’ paradises after the 2020 census. Finally, New York has established an attainable dream.

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