Monday, October 26, 2009

Support grows for Cuomo's pension fund reform

Support is rolling in from around the state for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's proposal to create a new 13-member board to oversee the state pension fund.

On Saturday, Cuomo attended a fundraiser in Binghamton for Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala. In a statement from the AG's office, Fiala said, "It is a pleasure to join Attorney General Cuomo and my colleagues from the state Legislature to announce this proposal, which I believe can help restore trust in our government. The state pension system and all New Yorkers will certainly benefit from Attorney General Cuomo's measure, and I thank him for coming to our region today."

This push for reform comes after former state Liberal Party Chair Ray Harding and co-founder of Aldus Equity Saul Mayer pled guilty to fraud in a scheme involving kickbacks for political favors and attempts to secure the fund's investments.

"Ending corruption in the pension system transcends political parties," Cuomo said in Saturday's statement. "Abuse of our pension system has run wild for far too long as politically connected individuals have lined their pockets with taxpayer money.

Cuomo recently received bipartisan support from 22 members of the Legislature's Long Island delegation.

Sen. Brian X. Foley, a Blue Point Democrat and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is the legislation's chief sponsor. On Oct. 8, Foley joined with Cuomo, Senate Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson and Republican Sen. John Flanagan in introducing the bill.

Currently, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli is the pension fund's sole trustee. Cuomo's proposal would break up the comptroller's monopoly, establishing a 13-member board to oversee investments.

The governor, attorney general, temp. Senate president, Assembly speaker, and Senate and Assembly Minority Leader would each select a member of the board. The state comptroller would serve as the board's chair. Pension fund beneficiaries would have say in choosing the six remaining members.

1) an active member of the retirement system will be chosen from among active members
2) a retired member of the retirement system will be chosen from among retired members
3) a county employee will be chosen from among county employees
4) a local government employee will be chosen from among local gov't employees
5) a police or fire member will be chosen by the state police and fire retirement system
6) a police or fire member will be chosen by the local police and fire retirement system

According the Cuomo's office, "all members of the board must have investment expertise and shall not have been employees of the retirement system for three years."

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