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The Weekly Fix: In New York City, It Pays to Do Nothing

The fix is in. New York City has a pension problem.

According to the New York Post, retired workers are clearing pension checks that significantly exceed their old salaries. One 86-year-old sanitation worker is collecting more than $285,000 a year, which amounts to more than double what he earned during his working days.

That extravagant of a retirement payout is shocking, considering the average Department of Sanitation pension is currently $49,405. But unfortunately, this is just one of many examples of New York City’s pension program gone terribly wrong.

Thanks to the dysfunction of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, pensions cost city taxpayers $10 billion each year, or approximately 17 percent of the city’s annual tax revenues. With $116 billion in debt outstanding, the Big Apple can’t afford six-figure retirement pensions. The time for reform is now.

The first step toward meaningful pension reform in New York City is to bring more transparency to the program. City officials make it incredibly difficult to obtain data revealing the full extent of the city’s irresponsible planning. It’s almost as if they know the city is doing a disservice to its taxpayers…

It took the Empire Center for Public Policy four years of legal battles and bureaucratic delays to finally gain access to the New York City Employee Retirement System’s records. This kind of struggle for public record is completely unnecessary. At every level of government, taxpayers deserve to know exactly where their money is going.

New York City’s pension problem only stands to get worse. According to Reason: “Mayor Bill de Blasio's $84.9 billion budget plan for 2018 includes $9.6 billion in payments to the city's five pension funds.” Experts predict that pension contributions will become the second largest spending category in the city budget over the next few years, behind only education.

It’s time to take a stand. The American people aren’t being heard by their representatives because the game is rigged. Government isn’t broken. It’s “fixed.”