Rising public pension costs are pummeling state and local governments so heavily that basic services must be cut to pay generous retirement benefits. New York can't quickly overhaul this system, but it can stop its abuse.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's interim report last week of his investigation into pension padding documents what we all know happens. Workers on the cusp of retirement, along with the supervisors who enable them, manipulate overtime in the final years to inflate benefit checks. It's so common it's considered an entitlement. And it happens across all job titles.

The attorney general's office estimates that for each $10,000 a year in overtime calculated toward pension credit, a worker receives an extra $80,000 over the course of their retirement. Since the state - or county or town or village - wasn't contributing to this higher payout over the course of that employment, taxpayers are getting handed even bigger bills.

Only a legislative cure will fix this, but that is unlikely this year. However, the system can be tightened up right now by better management. Cutting overtime is the most obvious way, but that's not always possible. The report recommends overtime caps and spreading the wealth around, so junior employees can get some extra time.

Private sector workers struggling with lost jobs, lower wages and shrunken retirements can't support this bloated system much longer.hN