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Letter: Support Taxpayer Relief Bill

Long Island and NYS taxes continue to rise at an unsustainable rate. Primary cost drivers are unfunded mandates, which get a lot of talk and attention in state-wide hearings, but somehow never result in any cost-controlling action. I would like to bring your readers’ attention to Smithtown NYS Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick’s bill A8603.

This bill addresses three primary cost drivers:

• Step increases in expired contracts - Currently, the Triborough Amendment mandates that salaries continue to rise even when a union contract expires. This bill would end the practice, giving employers a fair negotiating position.

• Unlimited mandatory arbitration awards - Currently, police and firefighters are entitled to a mandatory arbitration process when their contract negotiations reach an impasse. Historical evidence in Nassau and Suffolk counties shows high cost arbitration settlements. This bill would limit arbitration awards to 2 percent.

• Pension reform - Currently, public sector employees are entitled to a taxpayer guaranteed defined benefit pension (with unknown costs to the taxpayer). This bill would require future public sector employees to enroll in a defined contribution pension (with known costs each year) similar to private sector employees and already available to SUNY faculty for many years. The added benefit to the enrollee would be plan portability.

To discuss these issues and A8603, a Taxpayer Mandate Relief Forum is scheduled for Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m., at the Melville Marriot (1359 Walt Whitman Rd.) with Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick; Smithtown Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio; David Little, NYS School Board Association; Stephen Whitt, Hewlett & BOCES Trustee; EJ McMahon, Empire Center For NYS Policy; Steve Flanagan, Conservative Society for Action and host, past Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy.

Please attend and please contact your NYS elected official to support A8603 Taxpayer Mandate Relief Bill.

Anita MacDougall

Oyster Bay