In my last few posts I wrote about a possible piece of legislation that may, actually, make it through the legislature to offer an early retirement incentive for teachers. These buyout ideas are always long shots, but this bill had multiple co sponsors, was introduced in both houses on the same day and had other indications buried in the wording that made it look like a real contender to be signed by the governor.
That was all before New York City finalized and ratified its budget.
The budget -which was rumored to carry deep cuts to schools- fixed its eyes on the NYPD and on central administration for much of the cuts to education. The only way schools were directly hit were that FSF remained flat instead of growing with inflation and the rise in teachers salaries. That hurts, there is little doubt. But the majority of cuts came from non school based services.
And the mayor indicated he would seek cuts of only $1 Billion from city employees and would work with unions in order to do so. That's steep/ But it is not so Earth shattering as to require a special law allowing employees to retire early. The final analysis of the budget seems to point to a reality that things are bad right now, but the city isn't facing the dire straights many thought it would be facing back in late May.
There are those who say these cuts will be on their way if the HEROES Act isn't passed and if it doesn't offer serious help to New York State's budget. Because of this, so the thinking goes, a buyout may well be on the way anyway. Those folks are half right. We're 1975 level trouble if that bill doesn't provide relief to the state. But, since all indications currently point to that bill making it through the Senate sometime after July 20 (when Congress reconvenes) and including relief for states. So it doesn't look like doomsday is going to happen.
On top of that, the bill I noticed itself provides for a brief 30 day window for employees to file for early retirement According to that bill, that window would open on July 30 and close in August. If that window were to be made, the bill would have to be further along than it is. Checking in A10595, it is still in the Governmental Employees Committee in the Assembly. Its partner, S8599, is still in the Rules Committee in the Senate, The bills were both introduced on June 5th. They haven't' moved out of their committee and have not even begun to be scored in any meaningful way and tomorrow is July 4th. This doesn't leave the kind of time one would think for something to go through the processes and be passed and signed then prepared for employees.
There are folks who may think 'well, they could just change that date. Bills are made from words and words can be edited at any time' and, those folks are right. That could all happen.
It's just that it doesn't look like it will. As bad as it had been, I would like to think government hasn't gotten so bad that they would force a bill like that through with almost no time for people to put in their papers. There would be an outcry from every public employee in the state if not enough notice was provided.
So, the bottom line? It just doesn't look like it's going to happen.
There is still a possibility that all employees may lose 1-2 percent percent of pay through some type of furlough scheme. A billion dollars in savings (which is what the mayor announced he would be seeking from public employees) from among the roughly 305,700 city employees is about $3,200 per person. For a top earning teacher, that is roughly 2.5% of annual pay. So furloughs, along with some other cost saving measures, may be what plugs the budget hole that is left. Not (probably) a buyout.