Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cuomo vetoes veterans buy-back bill; Pokes his bony finger in the eye of public employees

Governor One Percent fails us again.
photo provided.
On Friday, November 7, Governor One Percent Andrew Cuomo vetoed a measure that would have expanded a pension credit for veterans who are now public employees. The bill was to fix an oversight of not being inclusive enough to include veterans who have served in Somalia, The Balkans or Afghanistan.

The measure was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bill Larkin, a retired Army colonel, and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D- Scarsdale) and was aggressively supported by CSEA and other public employee unions.

In 2012, Cuomo pushed for a new, less generous pension tier, Tier VI. Cuomo has also been at odds with the state’s public employee unions since before taking office in January of 2011. That year, Cuomo had New York’s workforce agree to cost-savings in labor contracts or risk widespread layoffs. This veto is yet another action in a long line of efforts to marginalize the well-being of middle class New Yorkers. If given the opportunity, Governor Cuomo will stick his bony finger in the eye of any rank and file public worker—especially if they belong to a union.

Leading up to the announcement on Friday, the governor’s office leaked several memos of opposition to the pension from conservative think tanks, lobbyists and the city of New York, which expressed concerns with expanding the pension credit. There is no doubt these documents were initiated by his office, but these claims can not be substantiated at this time. Nevertheless, perhaps cognizant of potential headlines and drama over the veto, Cuomo’s office released the veto announcement at the classic news-dump time of after 5 p.m. on Friday-- three days after the mid-term elections.

Bess Watts, a U.S. Army veteran and Monroe County CSEA Local 828 President says she and her family got a raw deal. “Of course he waited until after the elections to veto the Veterans Bill. This bill directly impacted me and many other veterans who have dedicated their lives to public service.” She added, “I could have bought back three years of service credit for my six years served in the U.S. Army. This veto is blatantly punitive and should be viewed for what it truly is—a slap in the face to public employees who honorably served their country. This action is shameful.”

Under the current law, veterans of the armed forces who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era or in specific combat zones such as Grenada, Panama or the Middle East in the 1980s can qualify for purchasing up to three years of pension service.
Veterans who served in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, Red Sea and airspace above from 1990 to the present also qualify. Again, the current law does not allow veterans who served in Afghanistan, The Balkans or Somalia.

In the photo below, one month prior to vetoing a buy-back benefit for Afghanistan troops, Cuomo treks to that very combat zone in the Middle East to get a photo op. It must be noted he couldn't look this soldier in the eye.

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