Governor Cuomo is poised to unveil a proposal to change benefit levels, and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is offering a bill that he says will close a loophole that is costing the state millions of dollars. Karen DeWitt reports.
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Comptroller DiNapoli released a pension reform plan that would close a loophole that permits people who work for local governments to game the system, by retiring and collecting pensions from their jobs with municipalities, then going to work for a state entity and receiving a new salary.
“We’ve either found through audits or press reports or whistleblowers, situations where people have exceeded what they are allowed to earn,” said DiNapoli. .
There is a law in place that limits state workers from collecting full pensions while working in another job for the state- limiting the amount that can be earned in the new job to $30,000, or the worker has to forgo part of their pension from the first job.
Currently, the Comptroller’s office can’t check with local governments to find out if anyone is double dipping. The bill would permit the state’s tax department and comptroller’s office to share information, so that any worker who reaches the limit would have to give the money back.
“In some cases it’s probably a question of a lack of knowledge, but in other cases people have been abusing the system, defrauding it,” said DiNapoli.
DiNapoli says the amount of money saved is not that large, likely under a million dollars, but he says without having access to the information from local governments, it’s difficult to determine how many might be abusing the system.
Governor Cuomo says he’ll also release a pension reform plan shortly.
Cuomo Administration officials first floated the idea of new benefits Tier for the state’s tens of thousands of employees to the Associated Press. The plan would require a later retirement age, from 62 to 65, end the practice of using overtime, unused vacation and sick time to pad pension payments, and require that employees contribute more money to their pensions.
The governor, speaking on a tour stop on Long Island, says his plan will also include other reforms to curb abuse that he terms “institutionalized fraud”.
Comptroller DiNapoli says he wants to see Cuomo’s plan first before commenting, but points out that the state just enacted a new benefit tier less than two years ago.