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Letter: Don't 'smooth' pension payments

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's new gun-control law has

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's new gun-control law has cost him public support among voters who live in gun-owner households, a new poll says. (Nov. 20, 2012) Credit: Charles Eckert

Taxpayers should weigh in with a resounding no to underfunding pension obligations as a temporary fix for out-of-control pension costs ["A way to ease pension crunch," Editorial, Feb. 7].

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed state budget includes a plan to reduce school districts' yearly pension payments to the Teachers Retirement System by up to 43 percent. The unpaid remainder would accrue with interest to the TRS -- and add to future assessments for pensions that every district taxpayer must pay.

The cost of these perks is already unsustainable and growing exponentially every year. The governor's plan is no solution. It just masks the expense, indebting taxpayers far into the future.

Years ago we experienced an example of pension deferral gimmickry in our school district when, to cure their budget shortfall, the State Legislature permitted districts to forego a pension payment and choose instead to pay for it over 10 years at 8 percent interest. It was costly, and no favor to taxpayers at all. It allowed school districts to take that payment now forgiven and use it to replace state aid.

Everyone made out, except the taxpaying public, which never understood what was done. The media never portrayed this bait-and-switch accurately. They simply reported the union claims of devastating cuts to school aid, although there were none.

Andrea Vecchio, East Islip

Editor's note: The writer is an activist with taxpayer groups Suffolk County TaxPAC and Long Islanders for Educational Reform.