As part of a marathon Q-and-A session with reporters today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a reform of the public pension system “must be” included in the 2012-13 state budget, which when passed would take effect April 1.
Cuomo is pushing for a new pension tier — Tier VI — that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 and include a 401k-style option for new employees, among other steps. It has faced stiff opposition from labor unions and criticism from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and neither Assembly Democrats nor Senate Republicans have fully embraced the proposal.
Today, Cuomo told reporters pension reform is a requirement for the next state budget, and said he would be willing to put them in a budget extender if a deal isn’t reach. If put into an extender after April 1, the Legislature would be faced with passing the bill or shutting down state government.
“The question is does this body, does this government, does this Legislature perpetuate a pension system that is on the verge of bankrupting this state — not an overly dramatic statement — or does the Legislature respond to the needs of the people?” Cuomo said.
When pushed by the Times Union’s Jimmy Vielkind if a final pension agreement would have to include a 401k-style option — one of the more contentious parts of the proposal — Cuomo said he would only negotiate with legislative leaders.
“Is your name Shelly Silver? Is it Dean Skelos?” he said. “Then I’m not negotiating with you. There has to be pension reform in the budget.”
Here’s the public portion of Cuomo’s cabinet meeting today. It begins with presentations on the Tappan Zee Bridge, the state’s emergency response system, and a downsizing of the state’s vehicle and equipment fleet, followed by the Q-and-A session: