Pension Buyback

Pension Buyback

On October 26, 2015, Governor Cuomo again vetoed the Veterans Equality Act. Mayor de Blasio opposed it, even though this bill--passed almost unanimously by the NY State legislature--included $24.8 million in appropriations to address previous complaints that this was an "unfunded mandate." This would have been a benefit on par with that provided by other states and the federal government. 

Below are the most recent posts, statements, and recommendations the NYC Veterans Alliance has made on this issue:


 

Governor Cuomo vetoed the Veterans Equality Act just before Veterans Day last year--the second year in a row after our state lawmakers passed near-unanimous, bipartisan bills to update New York's outdated and unfair rules for career civil servants to "buy back" up to three years of pension credit in exchange for their honorable military service. Right now he has a chance to remedy this--but will he fail us yet again?


In an overnight veto on October 26, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again squashed a bill that was passed unanimously in the NY State Senate and had only one dissenting vote in the Assembly. As a result:


Yesterday was the 51st Annual Queens County Council Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Queens County Council of the VFW. Ryan Graham, Commander of the Queens County Council, coordinated the event and made sure veterans citywide were invited to attend. Special thanks to Ryan for inviting NYC Veterans Alliance leaders and members.


Today Governor Cuomo received the Veterans Equality Act from the NY State Senate, giving him ten days to either sign or veto it. Please call Governor Cuomo's office at 518-474-8390 (select option 3) to urge him to sign it into law. We sent him the following letter:


Thanks to your encouragement of NY State Assembly members, the Veterans Equality Act passed the Assembly with only one dissenting vote, and will head to Governor Cuomo for him to sign. Although the bill passed unanimously in the NY State Senate and nearly unanimously in the Assembly--we could still see a repeat of what happened last fall when Mayor de Blasio lobbied against this earned benefit for veterans and the Governor vetoed it.


Current law permitting honorably discharged veterans employed by NY State and NYC to purchase or “buy back” up to three years of credit toward their pension at a reduced rate presently excludes veterans who served during the post-1975 Cold War era, and in Somalia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Legislation to update eligibility requirements is pending in the NY State legislature as of the release of this report. A total of 69.72% of respondents indicated that they view this as either essential or very important.


Yesterday--perhaps to save face from the embarrassment of his otherwise complete reversal--Mayor de Blasio issued a deceptive Memorandum in Support of NY State Assembly bill A.6543, which proposes to amend the current and unfair pension "buyback" credit system for state and municipal employees to only add veterans of the war in Afghanistan to the long and convoluted eligibility criteria for this earned benefit.


Mayor de Blasio seems to think that veterans are too expensive to receive the benefits they've earned. Today we learned that he has issued yet another Memorandum of Opposition to the Veterans Equality Act--this, after he held a special press event just before Memorial Day to announce that this time he would support it. Which is it, Mr. Mayor?


Last night we were pleased to see the Mayor’s office press release saying he will meet this morning for the first time since taking office eighteen months ago with the city’s Veterans Advisory Board along with senior military leaders in honor of Fleet Week and Memorial Day. This is a positive first step toward bridging the divide between Mayor de Blasio and the 220,000+ veterans and the 250,000 more spouses, dependents, and other family members of veterans who reside in NYC.


Last night was the first NYC Veterans Advisory Board meeting ever open to the public. We applaud the important reforms that led to this meeting, and to the appointment of new VAB members. Previous members of the VAB were present, as well as new members. The meeting was chaired by the Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), Loree Sutton.


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