ALBANY, N.Y. May 11, 2009 — More than 600 teachers and other educators – members of New York State United Teachers’ grassroots lobbying committee — will swarm the Capitol Tuesday to encourage legislators to support circuit-breaker legislation that would provide real property tax reform for middle-class homeowners.
The activists will also oppose creation of a Tier 5 for new public employees, saying weakening the pensions of future workers would create inequity and make it more difficult to attract skilled professionals to New York’s schools, while failing to save the state any significant money for a decade.
Buses carrying the NYSUT lobbyists will arrive at the Madison Avenue entrance of the Empire State Plaza at about 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, May 12. The 600 activists will be fanning out for special meetings with their elected senators and Assembly members, before returning to The Desmond hotel, 660 Albany-Shaker Rd., starting at noon on Tuesday for de-briefing sessions.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the circuit-breaker, which has proven successful in other states, is “a smart way to provide meaningful property tax reform for those who need it most — middle-class homeowners who support education but who are increasingly feeling the pinch of rising property taxes.” Iannuzzi said an income-based circuit-breaker is a “far better solution to reforming property taxes than destructive tax caps, which are merely a gimmick, offering only the illusion of relief.”
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin, who leads the union’s legislative and political action division, said a proposed Tier 5 would require greater contributions from public employees and other middle-class workers over a longer period of time, in exchange for diminished retirement eligibility and inferior retirement benefits.
“A struggling economy is no excuse to be unfair to future public employees, especially since the proposed changes to the state’s pension system would produce no budget savings this year or next; and only marginal savings over the next decade,” Lubin said. “A pension system that is strong and fair, and which provides dignity for all workers, is essential if New York state is to continue to attract bright young people into education and other jobs in public service.”
NYSUT, the state’s largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state’s community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.