by Art Silverman | March 16, 2012
ALBANY, N.Y. – It was state government at its dysfunctional worst.
A governor who promised accountability and transparency used redistricting to hold the Legislature hostage. Legislators abandoned their own long-held principles and caved in to brazen pressure tactics. Open government gave way to backroom deals in the middle of the night.
That was the backdrop as Gov. Andrew Cuomo twisted arms and finally passed a scaled-back version of Tier 6, his 40 percent pension cutting scheme aimed at New York’s public service workers.
Thanks to a massive mobilization by workers and our allies, we defeated the worst excesses of the governor’s original Tier 6 plan.
We eliminated his outrageous scheme to turn over public pension money to the same Wall Street firms that defrauded our pension funds in the first place. We managed to roll back the retirement age from 65 to 63. We prevented a two-year increase in a workers’ vesting period. And we beat back nearly half of the total lifetime pension cuts in the plan.
Even so, those victories are little comfort for New York’s nurses, public safety professionals, librarians and other public service workers. Every day, they go to work and provide vital public services for their communities. These same workers already gave back $35 billion in pension concessions two years ago and made further concessions last year.
The budget process in New York state is still unfolding. And we’re still fighting for what’s best for 99% of New Yorkers.
We must close the budget’s tax loopholes and stop the giveaways to Wall Street and corporate fat cats. New York’s Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax rate is shamefully low. The tax on real estate partnership profits isn’t even enforced. Hedge funds’ carried interest profits are exempt from taxation. And billion-dollar corporations avoid taxation by pretending they don’t do business in New York. We are continuing to fight to close these loopholes in the state budget process.