NYC Pension Reform Top of Bloomberg’s Legislative Agenda

January 19, 2011 ( – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed Wednesday that reforms of the city’s public pensions system would be his highest legislative priority before the state legislature.

Speaking in his “State of the City” speech, Bloomberg warned that New York still faces deep budget problems and can no longer afford to pay generous pension benefits to government workers.

An Associated Press news report said the mayor wants to raise the retirement age to 65 for new hire non-uniformed workers, which Bloomberg claimed would save billions of dollars over the long term.

Bloomberg said the city would ask state lawmakers to change the law to allow the city to negotiate pension benefits directly with the unions during collective bargaining; the state currently sets pension benefits.  He said he is dedicated to forcing change in a system that will cost the city $7 billion this year, and vowed not to sign any contract with a salary increase unless it also included benefit concessions that save the city money.

“City workers deserve a safe and secure retirement, but right now, they receive retirement benefits that are far more generous than those received by most workers in the private sector — and that provide for a much earlier retirement age,” Bloomberg said in the speech. “It would be great if we could continue to afford such generous benefits, but we can’t.”

Year-end bonuses would also be eliminated, saving about $200 million per year.

Bloomberg said former New York City Mayor Edward Koch has agreed to support the city’s pension reform agenda.  Text of the Bloomberg speech is here