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Letter: Public contract reform incomplete

After threatening a veto, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

After threatening a veto, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sat down with legislators to try to reach a last-minute deal to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. Shown here at SUNY Old Westbury on June 11, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

In New York, step raises and benefits for public employees continue in force even after contracts expire. The number of other states that guarantee automatic pay hikes for all public employees is zero. New York is the one and only state in the nation that has a Triborough Amendment in its labor law, and it is killing us.

The Triborough Amendment prohibits public employers, including school districts, from altering the terms of an expired union contract. Yet no one seems to know about it.

Public educators freely spend tax money on public relations campaigns, which successfully obfuscate the cause for our crushing tax burden and place the blame on taxpayers, parents and stingy seniors.

This should have changed when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took office and halted the automatic growth of the state budget. It should have been pointed out that Triborough's automatic raises were the cause of annual increases. Why didn't the governor discuss it then?

When groups were formed to fight huge yearly school tax hikes, we discovered spending and taxes had to go up a minimum of $3 million a year just to cover salary increases, without adding a thing in our school district.

The tax cap was meant to slow the tax creep; it was a delaying device until Triborough could be reformed. This reform must happen, or the state will continue to spiral downward, and no taxpayer-funded political happy talk will be able to explain it away.

Let us pray that whichever administration wins in November will take on this sacred cow and move New York forward again.

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.

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