I am sure that many of you are familiar with the children’s song about the wheels on the bus.  The recurring phrase is, “The Wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round”.  And it repeats itself several times.  That song reminds me of the same argument being used by the unions to stop Tier VI.  Their arguments go round and round, round and round…but they never really get anywhere. 

As an example, watch this interview with people that represent AFSCME.  I have no issues with the guests, but I do take exception to their message.  As much as they want to say it isn’t the workers fault…which by the way it isn’t…it also is not the fault of the taxpayers who have to foot the bill.  For instance,  Mr.  Tavermina talks about the last time the State Comptroller (then Carl McCall) stopped the local government contributions to the pensions, he says they should have been put off to the side and saved.  Then, when the market tumbled, we could have used those funds to offset the increases.  Two issues:

  • The laws that dictate reserve levels for local government are complicated and likely wouldn’t have allowed this
  • Whenever there have been funds laying around, they somehow get used as “pension sweetners” or increases in pay and benefits

At some point in the video, Ms. Roberts argues that the problem with pension costs today is Wall Street.  Plain and simple.  Mismanagement by Wall Street investors is to blame for the shortfall.  That is partially true…when the market is down it effects investment returns.  But to say that it is all Wall Street fails to acknowledge two other issues.  The first we mentioned above and that was the decision by the former Comptroller.  The second falls squarely on the Legislature when they passed an amendment that stopped the employee contributions to the pension fund.  Both of these, in hindsight, were bad ideas and BOTH played a role in the current pension issue.

Like the wheels on the bus, the arguments against Tier VI just go round and round and never admit reality…the costs are simply too high and we need to make changes today.  And if that means taking on the status quo, then so be it.  If that means shutting down government so that taxpayers can finally get some relief…I am pretty sure people would be ok with it.

And while I am on Tier VI…

As we covered in a blog post last week, leaders from both houses and both parties told the Governor he needs to negotiate with labor on Tier VI.  Once he gets an agreement with them, then he should bring it to the legislature for a vote.  Talk about passing the buck…and ducking the tough choices.  I have a couple of issues with that approach:

1) Pensions are outside of the components of the collective bargaining process.  So the Governor doesn’t need to negotiate with the unions on a new deal

2) We elect our Senators and Assembly members to represent us and our wishes.  So by all means, do what you were elected to do.  And as the polls have identified, we want Tier VI as shown here, http://bit.ly/ydwvYc, and again here, http://bit.ly/yso6aI

The debate on Tier VI is not over.  We must tell our elected officials to support Tier VI as proposed by the Governor…and that includes the defined contribution option similar to SUNY/CUNY.  Send your note today by clicking this link, http://bit.ly/xEFY10

PS – Governor, if you are negotiating with them, stick to your guns.  You are not wrong and we, the majority of New Yorkers that vote,  support you.