New York passes pension overhaul

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 15, 2012 9:29 AM
New York passes pension overhaul

(Reuters) - New York State lawmakers have passed a sweeping pension reform measure aimed at reducing future public worker retiree benefit costs by some $80 billion over 30 years, the governor said Thursday.

The legislation was tied to a clutch of bills, including measures to expand casino gambling and the state's criminal DNA database, for which Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a first-term Democrat, struck deals with legislative leaders late Wednesday.

Lawmakers then worked through the night Wednesday and into the early hours of Thursday to pass each bill.

Spiraling public-sector employee pension obligations are one the top financial problems faced by state and local governments across the United States.

The pension reform reduces retiree benefits for future state and local government workers, increases the amount higher-earning public employees contribute toward their retirement plans, and raises the retirement age by a year to 63, among other measures.

"Without this critical reform, New Yorkers would have seen significant tax increases, as well as layoffs to teachers, firefighters and police," Cuomo said in a statement.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauded the bill.

"Skyrocketing pension costs have caused fiscal crises in many cities and counties around New York, cutting into local governments' ability to deliver core services," Bloomberg said in a statement. "That's why mayors and county executives - from both parties, and from every region in the state - came together to support Governor Cuomo's plan."

(Reporting By Dan Burns; Editing by Daniel Trotta)