New York cuts pension benefits for public workers

By Joan Gralla and Dan Burns, Reuters

New York state lawmakers approved pension reform that will save an estimated $80 billion over 30 years, largely by reducing benefits for newly hired state and local public workers, which union officials Thursday blasted as an attack on the middle class.

Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the bill enacted by the legislature with several others starting late Wednesday as key to maintaining the state’s fiscal health. The bill also provides a safeguard for municipalities that will protect them from any financial burden if the state increases their pension benefits.

Spiraling pension obligations are one of the top financial problems faced by state and local governments across the United States. For New York’s municipalities, pension costs have risen more than 650 percent since 2002, to $12.2 billion in 2012, Cuomo said.

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