Now that Albany is completely reformed, Ed Koch is ready to take up his next battle: pension reform.
In his State of the City address today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that shoring up the city’s retirement system was the city’s number one priority with the new Andrew Cuomo administration in Albany, and he said that the octogenarian former mayor was the one to lead the charge:
“City workers deserve a safe and secure retirement, but right now, they receive retirement benefits that are far more generous than those received by most workers in the private sector – and that provide for a much earlier retirement age. It would be great if we could continue to afford such generous benefits, but we cannot. The only way to protect pensions for our City workers – including our police officers, firefighters, teachers, sanitation workers, and correction officers, is to reform the system so we can afford it, and at the same time afford the vital services that New Yorkers want and depend on. We have proposed and pushed pension reform before, and we have achieved some improvements with the United Federation of Teachers. But now we must go further – and capitalize on the reform agenda that Governor Cuomo has brought to Albany. Governor Cuomo campaigned on pension reform, and he will have our full support. ”In the weeks ahead, we will make pension reform our number one priority in Albany. And today, I’m glad to announce that a great New Yorker has agreed to take up our cause: Mayor Ed Koch. Last year, he formed a group – New York Uprising – that convinced a majority in both houses, and Governor Cuomo, to pledge their support for redistricting reform, something I strongly support, too. This year, he’ll expand his crusade and if you know Ed, he won’t do it quietly.
In a statement, Koch sounded willing to take up the battle:
Mayor Bloomberg is absolutely right to make pension reform his top priority – I applaud him for it, and am delighted to take it on myself. There’s no question that adding a plank to the reform effort makes our job that much harder. But I didn’t jump back into the morass of state politics because I saw an easy victory. I did it because I see that our government is failing, and we have a once-in-a-generation chance to fix it. With stakes like these, we better get it right – and we won’t get it right unless we enact meaningful pension reform.
Koch’s New York Uprising initiative was dismissed by some reform advocates of being little more than a PR campaign. And although Koch got most of those seeking office to agree to pledge–to back nonpartisan redistricting, budget reforms, and ethics reform–so far there has not been a lot of movement on the core tenants of the pledge.
Bloomberg of course, has struggled mightily in Albany, so perhaps getting one of the graybeards of New York’s last fiscal crisis to lead the charge will mean progress in the halls of the statehouse.
Among the reforms the duo seek are consolidation of pension systems, a new tier for employees hired in the future and an overturn of the state law prohibiting the city from negotiating pensions as part of the collective bargaining process.