The Poll Question for the Week of June 7 asked readers to vote on who came out ahead in the labor agreement reached between Gov. Paterson and the public employee unions. 54 percent of our readers believe the unions got the better of the governor in the agreement versus 12 percent who felt the governor was the winner. 22 percent felt no one came out ahead while only 6 percent think the taxpayers were the big winners.
The Buffalo News editorial board is in complete agreement with those Empire Page readers who voted that the unions came out ahead. In today’s editorial “Paterson caves to unions,” the News writes the governor is “the one person who could do something [on behalf of the entire state], and he did not.” Unfortunately as the News points out it was another case of Paterson rattling his saber and then caving in to his opponents.
Even the one positive that came out of the negotations — the creation of a new pension tier — is not an unmitigated home run. Public employees in that tier will still have a more enticing retirement plan than the vast majority of private sector employers can offer, tipping the balance in the wrong direction.
As a former small business employer who lost three employees because the state offered them a better retirement plan than my company could afford, I am well aware of how pernicious this unbalance can be. No economy can remain competitive on a world scale when people prefer to work in the public sector. Further, keep in mind who pays for that imbalance — the taxpayers or at least those who are not able to move out of the state.
The Poll Question for this week could have been about the NYS Senate. However, I decided against piling on and am asking instead when you think this year’s Legislative Session will end? It was scheduled to end on June 22, but given the amount of unfinished business and the fact that the Senate is in turmoil, the notion of coming back in July was floated by none other than Malcom Smith — the former(?) Senate Majority Leader. If extended the difficulties of addressing serious problems in the face of a power vaccuum could result in the session never ending, or will we see as we have too often in the past dozens of bills passed in the wee hours of some June morning pushed through by legislative leaders who have given up all pretense of democratic principles? Time for you to vote.