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Private pensioners paid from public system

ALBANY -- One member of a private-sector lobbying group is getting a $78,075 pension each year, another gets $84,389 and another collects $95,128 -- all from New York's public retirement system.

Two legislators Tuesday released state records showing more than 70 retirees from private lobbying groups are in the public system created for local and state government employees.

"Our public pension system has been infiltrated by private lobbyists," said Assemb. Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo).

The associations responded that they aren't opposing a bill to stop the little-known practice, but argued their service has long served local governments, school districts and their taxpayers.

Sen. George Maziarz (R-Newfane) who is co-sponsoring the measure, said Monday he suspects these private lobbying groups may be padding salaries in the final years of employment to boost the employees' public pensions.

But he said he can't prove it because these groups, which include the state Association of Counties, the state School Boards Association and the state Conference of Mayors, aren't subject to public-disclosure laws.

The bills would end any further pension credits to these employees and prohibit new employees from joining the state pension system.

The lawmakers said the state constitution may prohibit further action against those already in the system and would likely result in a lengthy legal challenge.

The legislature had added the groups to the pension system decades ago. The employees of these groups then became eligible for the public pension.

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