The property tax cap was always meant to be a first step in a larger reform agenda, which must include public sector contract reform.
It has been a tough sell to drum up excitement for repeal of the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law and of laws governing mandatory binding arbitration — reforms that are opposed by public sector unions. It is hard to get through to our legislators, who often depend on those unions’ support to get re-elected. They don’t fear the wrath of taxpayers, who are angry and frustrated, but are for the most part still unorganized and uninvolved.
Right now, public sector unions dictate terms and make the rules. This year, a bill to curb mandatory arbitration in public employee contract negotiations was on the agenda, but then Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s pension reform panel drafted a bill that was a huge disappointment. It signaled that union approval would be the prerequisite for any reform legislation, taxpayers be damned.
It was no surprise that the binding arbitration bill that passed the State Legislature did nothing to stop the abuses. A wording change to consider a community’s “ability to pay” was about all we got. On Long Island, lifetime pensions of $150,000 a year and higher for police will likely continue with binding arbitration intact.
In school districts, expired teacher contracts can remain in place indefinitely, with automatic step raises and most perks continuing into infinity. A $150,000 teacher’s salary is not unusual. The Triborough Amendment forces school districts to continue to raise pay on expired contracts as if the contracts were still in force. The ultimate goal is to lower taxes to the point that homeowners and businesses can afford to live here and prosper.
Andrea Vecchio, East Islip
Editor’s note: The writer is an activist with the taxpayer groups East Islip TaxPAC and Long Islanders for Educational Reform.
Why do we have to give the police, teachers and public union employees raises every year ? Don’t they know that Grumman is mostly gone, as are the New York City Garment District and most manufacturing? That means that a lot of the well-paying jobs are gone.
Instead of a 2 percent increase, we should see a 2 percent reduction in salaries and pensions over $50,000.
The guiding phrase in real estate is “location, location, location.” The guiding words in union salary negotiations should be, “Detroit, Detroit, Detroit.”
David Turk, Oceanside