ALBANY, NY - "It appears, in Albany 'reform' is whatever you spin it to be," said state Public Employees Federation (PEF) Vice President Joe Fox. Fox testified today in Albany at a state legislative hearing on how the governor's Executive Budget proposal would affect the state workforce.
"The Executive Budget calls for what the governor describes as reforms to the state's pension system, Civil Service and some fundamental changes in the way the state does business," Fox said.
"PEF supports true reforms that improve state services, but in this case some of the budget proposals are way off the mark. They would undermine public service, subvert merit and fitness and throw open the door to cronyism, patronage and unrestrained waste.
"For instance, the proposal for a new state pension Tier 6 with dramatically reduced benefits and increased employee costs is called a reform, but would be very destructive to public service. It would mean a lower standard of living for future retirees, reduce the ability to recruit individuals who see public service as a career and create a mercenary mentality where the commitment to public service no longer exists.
"The governor's proposal, which would ensure new employees receive inferior benefits to their more senior co-workers, is symptomatic of the selfish, I-got-mine attitude that has allowed the wealthiest to continue to build their wealth at the expense of the 99 percent," Fox said.
"Several of the proposed reforms to civil service would shred the merit-and-fitness system that protects fairness and high standards," Fox said. "Proposals that are supposed to reduce costs by making it easier for the state to hire and transfer state employees would allow state agencies to bypass the best qualified candidates to hire or promote individuals with lower scores on competitive tests or who haven't even taken the tests.
"Still other proposed reforms in the budget would hand off state services and responsibilities to private contractors and reduce quality standards, accountability and legislative oversight," Fox added.