Public Workers Fearful New Hires Will Never Be Able To Make Ends Meet

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Pension reform was signed into law Friday in Albany.

The landmark legislation changes future government workers’ retirement benefits and saves the state billions, reports CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo did a victory lap after signing into law pension reform that was years in the making.

“This really is a truly reform landmark. Pension victory is a huge victory for the taxpayers of New York State and for the future of the state,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Reform will not affect current government workers but reduces benefits for future workers, reigning in skyrocketing costs to the tune of $80 billion over 30 years.

“It was exponential, it was ongoing and, literally, it’s not overly dramatic to say if these pension costs were allowed to continue you would see cities and towns across this state going bankrupt, period,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Mayors and county executives hailed the changes as a victory for taxpayers.

The plan:

* Raises state workers retirement age from 62 to 63

* Increases employee pension contributions (workers will contribute 3-6 percent of their salaries)

* And the controversial loading up on overtime before retirement to pad pensions will be eliminated by averaging it over five years

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New York City police and firefighters are exempt from the changes.

Cuomo backed off on even deeper cuts but called the legislation a major accomplishment.

“If you’re concerned about the businesses of the state and you want businesses coming and not leaving then you have to do pension reform. It was that clear and that obvious,” Cuomo said.

Union leaders said it won’t help local governments in the short run and picks on the working man. Current workers like John Aloisio wondered how new hires will afford to make ends meet.

“If I was making 20 grand, now I’m making under 17 … to live on that in Nassau County, that’s very hard,” Aloisio said.

Taxpayers said they empathize with the government workers but also worry about themselves.

“Nobody wants to pay more taxes,” one person said.

The pension changes affect workers hired after April 1 and county’s like Nassau and Suffolk, facing hundreds of millions in deficits, will not reap the benefits for years.

The governor said pension costs for New York State have increased 650 percent over the last 10 years.

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