The Agenda

Is Gov. Andrew Cuomo Living Up to the Hype?

E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute, a partner of Economics 21, has covered Albany for decades, and he has an intimate knowledge of all of the major players and constituencies that shape policymaking in New York state. Early on, I think it’s fair to say that he had modest expectations regarding Gov. Cuomo’s ability to talk on the compensation demands made by politically powerful public workers. 

But today E.J. has written a post on the concessions the governor seems to have extracted from Law Enforcement Council 82. As he explains, this is a relatively small union. If he manages to get similar concessions out of the rest of the state’s workforce, however, he could come a long way towards addressing Albany’s fiscal bloat:

Council 82 is a relatively small union, covering 1,160 State University police, Park Police, Department of Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers. If other state unions make the same concessions, what the governor projects as “system-wide” savings would add up to $430 million — including $178 million for the increase in health insurance premiums, $196 million from the change sin co-pays and prescription drug refill, $45 million from the change in sick-leave credit and $11 million from the overtime reform. At least it would appear that way, assuming the term “system-wide” is translated to mean “if the same changes applied to the entire state workforce.” Indeed, on a statewide basis, a freeze on step increments would save another $140 million a year for as long as it lasts.

Imagine a presidential election pitting a budget-cutting Democratic governor against a budget-cutting Republican governor, both of whom understand that increasing compensation for middle income public sector workers regardless of the quality of outcomes is not the way sane people express compassion for those in need. That would be, in my view, an excellent outcome for fiscal conservatives.

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