The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice of the Capital Region

Fiscal summit first step toward crisis relief

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Local officials from financially distressed cities and school districts have finally gotten Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attention. After months of insisting they must solve their own problems, he now says he’s willing to meet with them at what Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, co-chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, has repeatedly called for: a “fiscal summit.” That’s exactly what is needed. Dealing with the locals’ fiscal crisis is similar to cleaning up the corruption in state government. ...

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April 25, 2013
7:48 p.m.

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The Taylor Law was enacted in the 1960s while the Triborough Amendment didn't get created until 1982. Many states have provisions that forbid public employee strikes which is the most often stated aspect of the Taylor Law. I think there are interesting arguments on each side about Triborough. Many unions believe it levels the playing field with employers whereas municipalities and school districts think it gives an advantage to the unions. The former in an environment of 2% tax caps and state aid levels that are at lower levels than 4 years ago does not seem very plausible that Unions are raking it in when a contract expires. Even less believable if you look at the last few years of contracts being settled in the Capital Region. My personal belief is when we hear advocates discuss the modification of Triborough we are listening to code words that will lead to frozen salaries of public employees when the contract expires. I think the debate becomes more honest if that would come to the forefront. If a contract expires many years can go by before a settlement is reached. Think Mechanicvile... No retroactive pay is ever given. So I am unsure how we can prescribe to the philosophy that the Unions rake it in when Triborough is in effect when in reality no new money is added to the contract. If Triborough is modified then strikes may become a possibility such as what we have seen in Vermont. In sum, the contracts being settled in Capital Region in the last few years have been close to zeros. Getting rid of Triborough will allow for frozen salaries of public workers which is why I believe there is discussion about it. Not because Unions have a lot of power in this fiscal environment because as we have seen that is not the case.