Who’s watching the shop? Are public sector pensions going to cripple average citizens?

July 29, 2022 The Empire Center
Photo courtesy of Cagle Cartoons
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The number of New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) retirees receiving six-figure pensions almost quadrupled over the last decade, increasing from 2,075 in 2012 to 8,237 in 2022, according to new data posted today on SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.

The new data include pension information for 1,535 newly-retired full career police and firefighters—so defined after 20 years of service — enrolled in New York’s Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS). In total, over $2.1 billion in pension benefits were paid to PFRS retirees in 2021. The average pension payment for newly retired full career police and firefighters was $87,347.

PFRS retirees represent just nine percent of the most recent cohort of pensioners in the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS), but constitute at least 55 percent of those receiving for six-figure pensions, according to the newly posted data, which includes pension data for 462,568 NYSLRS members.

“The generosity of pensions paid to public employees in New York stands in stark contrast to the benefits most state residents receive upon retirement from their private sector jobs,” said Peter Warren, director of research at the Empire Center. “Most New Yorkers will not receive a defined benefit pension when they retire – let alone a six-figure annual payout. But their tax dollars fund pensions for government retirees that put a growing strain on public budgets — one magnified by the recent decline in financial markets where such funds are invested.”

The highest new pension payout went to retired Nassau Health Care Corporation physician Richard Batista, who collected $339,873. He joins 41 other new and existing NYSLRS retirees receiving pensions over $200,000.

NYSLRS had just 1,378 six-figure pensioners at the end of fiscal 2010, when the Empire Center first made the list available online at SeeThroughNY.

The Empire Center, based in Albany, is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to promoting policies that can make New York a better place to live, work and raise a family.

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