I would like to thank Norman Silverman for his letter to The Wave regarding the issue of municipal pensions and transportation. It gives me an opportunity to explore these issues further and answer his concerns regarding my grasp of these issues.
Let me start by saying that a University of Rochester report released this past week stated the following conclusion about NYC’s pension liabilities: they amount to $122 billion dollars and may lead to an insolvent pension system within 10 years.
Also released this week was a similar study by the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center on the liabilities looming over New York State in retiree healthcare benefits which new accounting standards reveal to be in the area of $200 billion with the MTA’s share at more than $13 billion.
Putting all these numbers into perspective, they mean that the average New York taxpayer will be paying even more to support the promises made by Albany and we are already the highest taxed state in the country!
No one disputes the fact that state and city workers deserve their hard earned pay, what is to be debated is how to deal with the future of State and City pensions when the numbers clearly show they are unsustainable. How to sit down at the table with the hospital unions, the public authorities and the teacher’s unions to hammer out realistic economic plans for the compensation of public employees.
We can look into the crystal ball and see California struggling with its pension system which has resorted to IOU’s instead of payment and is finally predicted to go to the federal government for a bailout. How long can such a system go on? Even the federal government which has the ability to print money is learning rapidly that mortgaging our nation’s future is a risky game which threatens to devalue the dollar and the rest of the nation’s retirement accounts and home values.
Mr. Silverman, you state that we can simply improve the pensions of the private sector. This is the fundamental flaw in your analysis for if the private sector is to continue to fund the pensions of the public sector through tax revenues, they cannot afford to raise their own pensions and still stay in business! We are already seeing major US Corporations like 3M, modifying their retiree healthcare pension packages due to the onerous mandates that came down with the Healthcare Reform bill. They could not stay in business and meet the feds requirements. You are asking the same of NY’s small businesses who are already struggling with the largest net jobs migration out of state in the entire country. Small businesses are the main producers of jobs.
Regarding the transportation issue in the Rockaways; I do indeed support exploring every possibility of establishing more efficient rapid transit to and from this peninsula, including re-opening the LIRR line, subsidized/ private ferry services, increased use of express bus service and dedicated express subway service. At the same time, I also realize the need to pay for these improvements in the long term, preferably by allowing these services to become more accountable in their use of our tax payer dollars. One thing is for sure, we will never get to a place of better service under the current system of multiple accounting books by the MTA and profligate pensions without regard for economic principle.
The days of the Port Authority gardeners making $200 thousand plus a year in overtime must be reevaluated.
Finally on the issue of the Republican party outside of this district, I can tell you this much; I share a political philosophy with the Republican party but my campaign is not subsidized or funded in any way by the County, State or National Republican establishment. If elected to represent this district, I am under no obligation to vote against my constituency and my conscience.
I would respectfully ask if our Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer can say the same about her relationship to the Democratic party?
DR. HAROLD PAEZ CANDIDATE FOR ASSEMBLY