Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget amendments late yesterday would let BOCES and three public hospitals enter his controversial pension-smoothing plan.
The amendments also include $5 million to retrain workers who may lose jobs through consolidation of state facilities, including at psychiatric hospitals, which we wrote about today. Another $5 million was added to help support the Super Bowl coming to the Meadowlands next year.
Despite criticism of his proposal to allow local governments and schools smooth out their pension costs over 25 years, Cuomo’s budget amendments would expand it.
BOCES and three local public hospitals – Nassau University Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center, and Erie County Medical Center—would be eligible.
“The county sponsors of the three hospitals included in this amendment, as well as their taxpayers, have a direct interest in financial condition of these institutions and, therefore, the stable pension option is a viable approach to meeting local fiscal demands,” Cuomo’s announcement states.
There’s good reason why the hospitals are included. They have also dealt with the skyrocketing pension costs that local governments and schools have grappled with.
Westchester Medical Center is borrowing $14 million this year from the state’s pension fund to pay for pension costs. Nassau Medical Center is borrowing $11 million, according to records from the state Comptroller’s Office.
The $5 million for the Super Bowl will support activities in New York “to promote tourism and stimulate economic development opportunities associated with this premier event,” according to Cuomo’s office.
And $5 million will go to retraining state employees who have or may lose their jobs because of closures of mental health facilities or prisons.
“Funding would be available to retrain employees for which comparable State positions could not be found nearby their current work location. This amendment reduces the radius to 25 miles, allowing the funds to be used to help a larger number of impacted employees,” the news release states.