Worried about being able to afford retirement and medical care? Lots of us are, but one group of labor aristocrats is supremely insulated from such mundane worry. Their pensions are guaranteed to rise with inflation, and may never be reduced. They are public employees in New York and several other states, where the state constitution specifically forbids reduction in their retirement pay.
The New York Post presents some astonishing data on the rich retirement benefits available to the new labor aristocrats in New York City, and the burden they present for taxpayers:
... the soaring number of retired cops - more than 10,000, by last count - under the age of 50. (emphasis added)
That's a huge and growing share of the total number of officers on pension.
Not only are their payouts fat; these cops can be expected to collect for 40 years, on average. Where will all the money come from to pay them?
And here's the surest sign that police pension costs are unsustainable: Each year, some 2,000 officers retire - while only 1,000 or so stop getting pensions upon death.
At the FDNY, meanwhile, retirees average a whopping $85,000 a year, with 72 percent getting higher-paying disability pensions. One retiree, The Post reported, rakes in $175,000 a year.
Mayor Bloomberg is actually proposing reforms, but these can only affect new hires. The aristocrats who have guaranteed incomes for decades more of non-work cannot be touched.
Our proposed pension reforms, which Gov. Paterson has included in his executive budget, would create a minimum retirement age of 50 for uniformed workers hired in the future. We also propose requiring all uniformed and civilian employees hired in the future to contribute to their pensions throughout their careers. These two critical steps are the core of the reforms that would save the city $7 billion over the next 20 years - beginning with $200 million in the next fiscal year. That's $200 million in taxes we don't have to raise and services we don't have to cut.
We've also proposed modest health-care reforms that ask city workers - who now contribute nothing to basic coverage - to pay 10 percent of their premiums, a level far below many private-sector workers.
These pension and health-care reforms would save the city more than $750 million a year. To put that in perspective, that's the equivalent of hiring 8,600 police officers.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky