April 2003


From the NYS Assembly • Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Peter J. Abbate, Chair, Governmental Employees Committee

Governor Pataki’s budget forces retirees and public employees to pay more for their health insurance

What the experts are saying...

"Governor Pataki has made a number of wrong choices in dealing with New York’s budget crisis but this one is particularly mean-spirited and absurd. Instead of asking those who can easily afford it to pay a little more, he’s forcing those who can least afford it to pay dearly."

– Danny Donohue, President, Civil Service Employees Association

"Retirees can’t afford these kinds of premiums. Long-term employees and retirees who committed their careers to the State rely on these benefits. The State must not break its commitment to them."

- Roger E. Benson, President, Public Employees Federation

"With average pensions of less than $13,000, retirees simply can’t afford these increased costs."

– Kevin F. Murray, Executive Director, Retired Public Employees Association

Governor Pataki’s budget rewards the dedication of hardworking public employees and retirees with broken promises, leaving them to face higher taxes, health insurance hikes and, for many, a shove out the door.

Breaking a promise to public workers and retirees
The governor wants state retirees and employees to pay considerably more for their health insurance. Current employees and retirees both would see increases in their monthly premiums, as well as co-payments for doctor visits and pharmaceuticals. All told, the scheme would cost most current employees $21.6 million. Retirees and certain other current employees would pay an extra $48.4 million.

For retirees, this plan is an especially hurtful broken promise. After their years of service, retirees count on these benefits – now, they’re facing having to dig into their pockets to pay for the governor’s wrong choice. Retirees with 10 years of service will see their monthly $141 family health insurance premium skyrocket to $445 a month – that’s an increase of $5,340 a year.

People put a great deal of thought into planning their retirements. This sudden and unilateral benefits cut undermines those plans. Public employees have some of the toughest jobs around: state troopers, social workers, and correction officers, to name just a few – and they don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Killing Jobs
Under the governor’s budget, state employees with 10 or more years of service are being hit with a deadline ultimatum for retirement. They face choosing between keeping their jobs now or decent health care benefits after retirement. Under the governor’s budget proposal, any 10-year employee who does not retire by January 1, 2004 will see their health insurance premium hiked 40 percent. This is a raw deal for loyal employees who’ve worked hard for years, and now are being told they must pay to keep their jobs.

Interfering with good faith contract negotiations
Worse, the governor is proposing these measures – which so drastically impact the state’s workforce – without any input from employee representatives. It’s wrong to interfere with collective bargaining and attempt to force these provisions into their contracts. The governor must not be allowed to trample on the collective bargaining rights of state employees and retirees.

Ensuring the benefits of a job well done
The Assembly majority has long fought to ensure the benefits promised our state employees would be something they could count on – passing laws to ensure a cost of living adjustment and enhance benefits for current and future retired public employees. The work done by public employees keeps the Empire State running. They make New York the great place to live and work that it is – and they deserve to be compensated for their hard work.

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