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Your Guess is as Good as Mine

by Reilly Willson / /

Payroll attrition, encouraging employees to retire while suspending hiring, may be a good option for New York as they work to address long-term costs of government. But you can't address the size of the payroll and the cost of government if you don't know how many people are on the payroll. The New York state government has become so large and complex that nobody in Albany can agree on a total number of state employees. The problem stems from the two public payrolls that the state manages. One is under the control of the governor and the other includes workers from the many independent public authorities and agencies. This has created a monster that is now wreaking havoc on New York's treasury.

But the problems don't end there. Many of these authorities are funded by special revenue funds rather than the state's general fund. These agencies say they will not participate in the Part A retirement incentive offered by the state, which allows every worker to collect an additional month's benefits for each year they have worked, with a maximum of 36 months. This creates a good news/bad news scenario in that those agencies, while failing to encourage people to retire which provides immediate fiscal relief, also will not contribute to the indebted publicly funded pension program thus helping the long term economic stability of the state. 

This is a perfect example of how huge bureaucracies impede efforts to significantly cut costs in state budgets. When a state has grown so large and the budget so opaque, it is a sign that drastic reform is needed. Governor Patterson can solve the problem if he takes the hard stance of streamlining the government's structure through big cuts to the state's budget and promoting efforts to improve transparency.