May 29, 2015 | 11:04pm  

 

De Blasio’s pension opposition is about to blow up in his face

By Yoav Gonen

AP
Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio is facing a humiliating defeat in Albany, with legislators threatening Friday to pass higher disability pensions for the city’s newly hired uniformed employees over his opposition.

Normally, the Legislature waits for a “home rule” message from the City Council before taking action on a major pension change that would affect the city.

But on Thursday, the state Senate voted unanimously to raise the disability pensions of cops, firefighters and other uniformed personnel to 75 percent of their final year’s salary, up from the 50 percent that kicked in for new hires starting in 2009.

And on Friday, Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Committee on Governmental Employees, warned he’s prepared to pass a companion measure in his body if the City Council and the mayor continue to stall.

“We try to not usurp the rules of the City Council. We try to give them every opportunity to do it,” Abbate said after testifying at a council hearing on the controversial pension reforms.

“I really think that would be bad precedent — not only for City Council, but for the mayor,” he added.

“He’s not in great standing with uniformed forces. Why would you go around and have the mayor now say ‘No,’ and then [the reform] gets done anyway?”

De Blasio recently proposed limited reforms to address pension inequities for the newest of hires, but the uniformed unions rejected them as inadequate.

The unions rounded up support from 40 of 51 council members.

But the measure never came up for a vote under Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a loyal de Blasio ally.

Asked about the lack of movement, Mark-Viverito, who has yet to take a public position on the pension changes and who missed Friday’s hearing, said, “We have to listen to all options.”

Administration officials argued that restoring pension payments to prior levels would add $400 million in costs through fiscal 2019.

“The [stalled] Albany bill would undermine the most significant pension reform in over 30 years and subject New York to unsustainable fiscal implications that would impinge on our ability to deliver vital services to New Yorkers,” said Bob Linn, the mayor’s labor-relations chief.

Linn also noted that Gov. Cuomo has changed his tune since last year, when he vetoed pension reforms for military members that were even less expensive than the ones currently under consideration — citing the prohibitive costs.

Cuomo is siding with the unions in their push for the higher pensions — as have a number of officials who normally back the mayor, including city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James.

“There is a difference between creating a new benefit and ensuring fairness for workers,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.

“Why should we harm our police officers, or firefighters, by denying them benefits if they work in New York City but provide the same benefits if they work in the rest of the state?”

Additional reporting by Kirstan Conley