Here’s a video by the AFSCME (The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) if you haven’t seen it.

They are trying to use misinformation to get the public to change their opinion on Tier VI.  So, what is this misinformation?  Let’s explain…

Let’s start by being honest (something this ad is not). We need change so that our communities can stay affordable, so that schools don’t experience layoffs and local governments do not have to downsize their police forces.  But this is an ad made by people who do not want things to change in New York State.  So the ad is full of misinformation and spin-doctoring.  Otherwise when you look at the facts, their arguments are hollow.

The ads main implied claim is that Tier VI pension reform will cut benefits to current workers, like teachers and nurses, by 40%.  It sounds really bad.  But it’s not true.  First of all, anyone already employed by the state or local government does NOT have to worry about Tier VI.  It does not affect ANY current nurses, teachers, policemen, firefighters, etc. Taking away anything from them would require a change to the state constitution. The creation of Tier VI only defines benefits for future employees.

The second misinformation in this ad is that the pension is cut by 40%.  Again, not true.  If you still want to call it a “cut” in benefits it’s really more like a 17% difference when compared to Tier V.  Our friend and colleague EJ McMahon explains it better here. The bottom line is that yes, there will be a reduction in pension payouts to future workers.  But implying it is a cut is wrong.  You can’t cut something that someone hasn’t earned yet.

Finally, the ad says that the average pension is less than $20,000.  That’s not true.  That number comes from averaging everyone who’s alive and in the system, not people who have worked their full careers, retired, and are now living off their pensions.  The average number for full career employees is closer to $56,000.  That number can still go up as public employees work longer and live longer.

The simple reality is that changes need to be made to keep our New York State communities affordable.  And there are some people that do not want to adapt to change.  The real benefits of Tier VI and an honest examination of the retirement system need to be part of the discussion.  It can’t just be back room political dealings, emotional misinformation and fear mongering.

Should Tier VI fail to pass, it will be clear as to why.  Some of our state elected officials made a decision to not do what is right for the taxpayers of the state of New York.  And that is something we cannot and will not forget.