Governor Andrew Cuomo steamrolled Democrat opposition to make Tier Six pension reform the law but at what cost? He has alienated labor leaders around the state. It is beyond doubt that reform was needed. Some of the reform will appropriately reduce the economic burden of workers pensions on government, but unchecked spending and borrowing can make this sacrifice a meaningless gesture.
The overwhelming number of public employees collect modest pension amounts. This rush to create a new Tier with reduced benefits will hurt future and present workers. There are rumors that the governor traded the right to redraw legislative lines to state Republicans as part of deal in exchange for support for Tier Six. This will create an perfect environment for incessant partisan fighting.
Meanwhile, scant attention is paid to the fact that Mayor Bloomberg allowed the single biggest fraud ever perpetrated against New York City to happen during his administration.
CityTime, the citywide computerized worker payroll system, soaked the city for almost $800 million before someone woke up and asked what was happening to all the money. More than 200 consultants were paid an average of $400,000 a year on the project for seven years before anyone questioned the contractor.
Science Applications International Corp., the parent company, as part of a plea bargain with the U.S. attorney, will pay restitution to the city of more than $500 million! The scary thought is that this same company still has lucrative contracts with the federal government. This half billion dollar larceny must just have been an aberration for SAIC.
City Hall expects us to accept assurances from the administration that the $30 billion a year spent on the Department of Education is money well spent because now we have school report cards and teacher evaluations. Are our children being educated and learning basic skills in school? Mayor Bloomberg has $500 billion more to pay educational consultants to produce evidence which coincides with his conclusions and assertions about education.
He single-handedly doubled spending on education in New York City but cannot point to proportional gains in performance during his administration. A school system that must teach more than 1.1 million students, many with emotional and developmental issues, cannot do well for all students, no matter how much money is spent.
New York City has outstanding specialized high schools where adequately prepared students who want to be in school learn and do well. These self-motivated students blossom in an environment of similarly motivated students.
In order to achieve a greater amount of success in education, a differentiation between students who want to learn and students who do not want to learn must be made. If you cannot exclude students who are unprepared or unwilling to learn, you poison the learning environment so that goals and results are diminished.
The mayor could have spent some of the $500 million windfall on educational innovation but an audit revealed that City Hall may have wasted $1 billion in an upgrade project for the 911 system.
In 2004, Mayor Bloomberg promised an improved system 911 system to be completed in three years. Five years later, the $1.3 billion cost has ballooned to $2.3. We need innovation and inspiration from our local and national political leaders. Lets spend our money on less costly and more promising improvements before we have no money to spend on anything at all.