Benefit Sweeteners on the Move in State Legislature
Last week five bills on CBC’s Benefit Sweetener Scorecard passed one house of the State Legislature. The most expensive bill (A7862/S5644) was passed in the Senate and would increase pension benefits for SUNY police officers to half-pay after 25 years, generating a one-time cost of $10 million and new annual obligations of $1 million for the State. SUNY police now participate in plans available to state and local civilian employees. Two bills that passed in the Senate would increase costs on Long Island. A bill to increase disability pensions for Suffolk County probation officers from one-third to one-half of final average salary (A8160/S5153) would cost the county $218,000 annually and $1 million upfront. In Nassau County pension costs would rise by $170,000 annually with the adoption of A9051/S6810, which provides a 75 percent disability pension for ambulance personnel.
Another bill that passed in the Senate (A6793/S3785) would add Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) to the list of conditions presumed to be work-related for state and local police and firefighters, entitling them to a 75 percent disability pension. Lastly, the Assembly passed a bill (A9162/S7716) that would allow Tier III and V police and firefighters hired between July 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012, who may have been working under an expired collective bargaining agreement, to join an optional 20-year retirement plan without any employee contributions. After losing a lawsuit over these benefits last year the unions are trying an end-run around the courts in the legislature.
CBC has also added A9392/S7120 to the Scorecard. This bill, which passed in both the Senate and Assembly last week, would automatically enroll members of the Police and Fire Retirement System in the more expensive, optional 20-year plan unless members opt out.
Action on these bills and others identified in CBC’s Scorecard is likely to continue this week. The Senate’s Floor Calendar for today (June 16) includes a perennial bill to prohibit the diminution of health insurance benefits for retirees (S3627) and a bill to increase disability benefits for New York City police officers (S7326), to which Mayor de Blasio has expressed opposition. CBC will update the Scorecard if the Senate and Assembly act on additional bills.