The New York pension system is out of control. In addition to the extravagant, irresponsible and under-reported negotiated levels of benefits, there is an additional characteristic of the system that is never talked about. There is a huge break that goes to New York retirees; anyone who gets a retirement pension from New York State, or any locality or agency (teacher, firefighter, etc) pays no city or state income tax on that pension money. This hearkens back to the days when New York workers were so underpaid that this benefit was warranted.
It should be noted that nearly a decade ago, that provision of New York state law was declared federally unconstitutional. It was determined that New York state could not exclude federal retirees from the tax exemption The courts gave New York two options: make New York government pensions taxable, or add federal workers to the list of non-taxable agencies. Of course, New York chose the latter, thereby adding to the state budget deficits.
Even though historically, public sector employees earned less than what those skills would command in the private sector, that is clearly not the case today. Study after study has shown that public sector compensation – which includes retirement pensions – has steadily outpaced its private sector counterparts in recent years. New York is among the worst offenders.
This state of affairs must be reversed. Allowing the exempted retiree pensions to be taxed the same way other retiree pensions would accomplish two goals: 1) lessen the compensation disparity with private sector employees, and 2) severely reduce the New York budget deficit by providing additional revenue to the state.