Picente Supports Pension Reform in Albany Appearance

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. took his effort to reduce the burden of pension costs on local governments and county taxpayers to Albany yesterday, speaking in support of Governor Cuomo’s proposed Tier VI retirement system. The County Executive was asked by Mayor Bloomberg to speak as part of a coalition of pro-reform elected officials led by the New York City Mayor.

In his speech, County Executive Picente pointed out the fact that Oneida County’s retirement system payment has gone up over 548% from 2001 to 2010. He also said, “I believe that the Tier VI proposal put forth is the basis for the future because it provides a compromise that recognizes the worth of our public employees, and the needs of our taxpayers.  Above all, I believe
we need to act on this issue now - not next year or the year after - because it is the right and necessary thing to do for the people of Oneida County and all of New York State.”

Picente noted that the New York State Association of Counties projects that by 2014, 25 percent of county budgets will be consumed by this line item alone. “This is not an issue upon which we can wait for an answer to appear to avoid the unpleasant need to act,” he said. “We cannot afford the system we have. We must change it. That is a simple financial reality. We can’t just hope the economy bounces back and the problem is papered over for a year or two. We need to solve it once and for all. The Tier VI proposal that the Governor has drafted provides the benefits that public employees deserve, at a cost that governments can afford. This is a compromise that reflects the fiscal reality of our times, and I believe it is an important and essential step New York must take.”

Picente noted that the state’s actions has strong local impact. “As is so often the case in New York State, the fiscal health of counties is shaped by decisions over which we have no direct control. Counties have no control over the pension benefits awarded to their own employees. We get the bill. The pension payment we must make annually is increasingly a burden that drains budgets and increases taxes. Rather than continue a system we all know does not work, I believe we must take action to change it,” Picente said.

Also speaking at the event were Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach, Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.