After a group of unions angry over the passage of the Tier VI pension reform plan pulled support from the Somos El Futuro’s annual Legislative Conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the organization a pair of hefty donations.
“We think the unions’ actions are unfortunate, and don’t want the conference to suffer as a result. We both support the Somos El Futuro Conference and, as such, we will be donating $72,000 to Somos El Futuro and the scholarship to make up for the donations that the unions withdrew,” the mayor and governor said in a joint statement.
Against the backdrop of the contentious turf war over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pension reform plan, a trio of Democratic Assemblyman and several labor leaders are calling for passage of the Institutional Investor Recovery Act. This legislation would allow the Attorney General to seek damages and recoveries when public pension funds suffer losses due to securities fraud. Currently, the Martin Act gives the Attorney General broad powers to prosecute securities fraud, but it does not allow the State to recover losses on behalf of public pension funds. Pursuing losses from financial firms is a favored topic of opponents of the governor’s pension reform push who argue the focus should be on penalizing Wall Street firms that lost money from the pension fund rather than cutting benefits.
“All the focus on the issue of pensions has been on the benefit side of the equation. We need to look at what happened on the investment side. It simply doesn’t make sense that the pension funds have no practical way to recover investment losses caused by fraud,” said Assemblyman Peter Abbate the lead sponsor of the bill to update the Martin Act.
Manhattan Borough President and possible 2013 mayoral candidate Scott Stringer blasted the New York City Department of Education at a press conference today following the publication of a New York Times report documenting the DOE’s failure to claim millions of dollars in federal Medicaid reimbursements for services provided to students with special needs from 2006 to 2010. Mr. Stringer called for hearings investigating the missed reimbursements, which he described as a missed opportunity to curb school budget cuts and evidence of widespread problems at the DOE.
“This calls out for state and city hearings immediately, there’s no time to waste. This agency has been going down this perilous path for many years, but nobody could have imagined that, when it came for reimbursement, they would fail so miserably. I am shocked and I am outraged,” Mr. Stringer said.
Strongly Worded Letters
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew sent a letter to all 51 members of the City Council asking them to support the “Fair Wages For New Yorkers Act,” better known as the “Living Wage Bill.” “Millions of New Yorkers are struggling just to make ends meet, and our members–their teachers and other educators–are seeing the effects of that harsh reality in our classrooms everyday. Children who are not being fed, clothed or housed properly cannot hope to concentrate,” Mr. Mulgrew wrote. ”The passage of the ‘Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act’ would be a step towards improving the lives of millions of New Yorkers, and consequently, their children,” wrote Mr. Mulgrew.