I’m writing this in Buffalo, some 280 miles west of Albany.  Put another way, I’m writing from the real world, which is REALLY far from New York’s capital city.

Can it possibly be true that an announcement was made over the weekend that state employees would be getting $1/2 billion in raises – when we have a budget deficit that is estimated to be $20 billion next year?

As the president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership – an organization that represents some 2,500 Western New York companies – I’ve watched private sector employers struggle with cutting or freezing employee salaries, discontinuing 401k matching programs, instituting furloughs or all of the above. They did this in order to save jobs at their companies – and trust me, these decisions weren’t made easily and their impacts on their employees’ families weren’t taken lightly.

That’s why it is infuriating that lawmakers in Albany continue to make decisions that further cut the take home pay of hardworking taxpayers across New York. The nearly 250,000 people Partnership member companies employ are paying for those proposed $1/2 billion in raises — while they are living on less!

A 2009 report from Unshackle Upstate titled “New York’s Double Standard,” showed that annual salaries for upstate public sector employees averaged $47,035. The private sector average was $42,789.  New York leads the nation in per capita contributions to public-employee retirement, at $486 per taxpayer for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

It’s time Albany lawmakers get in touch with reality. If they don’t, it’s critical all you “real world voters” Remember in November.