De Blasio open to early retirement incentives for NYC workers as budget battle continues – NY Daily News 09.21.2020

De Blasio open to early retirement incentives for NYC workers as budget battle continues

By Michael Gartland

New York Daily News |

Sep 21, 2020 at 5:08 PM

New York City employees facing potential layoffs should get early retirement incentives as part of the city’s efforts to identify savings amid a worsening fiscal crisis, Mayor de Blasio said Monday.

“It’s not the whole solution, but early retirement will definitely be a piece of the solution,” the mayor said at his Monday press briefing. “Early retirement as a policy is something we have to put into play.”

De Blasio has been struggling for months to piece together a workable solution to the city’s financial puzzle with little help from the federal government — it still hasn’t come through on a financial aid package — or from the state, which has resisted his pleas to grant the city $5 billion in additional borrowing power.

The city is facing a $9 billion revenue shortfall brought on by the pandemic. Critics of the mayor also point to the city’s spending over the years as a factor, with the budget climbing from $75 billion in de Blasio’s first year in office to $92.8 billion in 2019.

In June, de Blasio and the City Council cut the budget down to $88.1 billion as the city’s fiscal straits continued to worsen.

The mayor’s statements Monday are the first time he’s publicly supported calls to implement early retirement incentives as a way to avoid some of the 22,000 layoffs that may be in the offing if the city can’t find more savings or come up with more cash.

De Blasio has been in talks with city labor leaders for weeks to identify savings from the city’s workforce — whether it be through early retirement incentives, or having city workers pay for a portion of their health care premiums.

Instituting retirement incentives would have to be done in Albany through a new state law.

“I’ve spoken to the leadership of the Legislature in Albany and many members of the Legislature, and there’s a strong consensus that early retirement will have to be part of this package,” he said.

Several bills on early retirement incentives have been drafted. And an Albany legislative source said he expects some movement on one or more of them in the coming days. “It’s definitely being discussed and probably something that will be moved forward,” said the legislative source.

Still unclear, de Blasio acknowledged, is how much savings could be achieved through such incentives and how many people the city could reasonably allow to retire without diminishing essential services.