Proposes Legislation Authorizing an Early Retirement Incentive
Governor David A. Paterson today announced that, in the absence of a final enacted budget, he will include language authorizing State employee furloughs directly within his next round of proposed emergency appropriations bills.
“I have repeatedly called upon the State public employee unions to work with me to achieve critical workforce savings,” Governor Paterson said. “Because unions have not accepted any proposals to achieve necessary savings, I am left with no other choice but to move forward with this plan. I do not take this action lightly, but it is necessary given the unions’ unwillingness to make any sacrifices and I will do whatever is necessary to protect New York’s finances.”
Under the Governor’s proposal, State agency commissioners will be given the discretion to schedule one furlough day for each of their employees during the week of May 17. Employees will not come to work on their furlough day and will not be paid for their furlough day. Employees would not be allowed to charge their accruals to offset this salary reduction and agencies would not be able to use overtime to make up for loss of productivity.
Public health and safety would not be jeopardized. The Budget Director would designate positions providing direct care or certain security services as “essential” and the employees serving in those positions would not be furloughed. Examples include: Correction Officer; Nurse; and State Trooper. Management/Confidential employees will also not be subject to the furlough, since, unlike union employees, their scheduled general salary increase was eliminated last year and will not be paid this year.
Moreover, in order to provide agency commissioners and local officials with an additional tool to achieve necessary workforce savings, Governor Paterson will also today put forward legislation authorizing an early retirement incentive. That bill would establish a temporary retirement incentive program for certain State employees and other public employees that elect to participate to assist in streamlining the workforce while also achieving cost savings. Eligible public employees would be able to either retire without penalty at 55 years of age with a minimum of 25 years of service or receive an additional month of pension credit – not to exceed 36 months – for each year of service. Local public employers would have the option to elect to participate in the early retirement incentive program.
State employee furloughs and the early retirement incentive represent the most recent proposals the Governor has put forward to ensure the State has sufficient cash flow pending the enactment of a budget for FY 2010-11, and to achieve $250 million in workforce savings included in his Executive Budget as part of a broader effort to close the State’s $9.2 billion deficit.