New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently vetoed legislation that would have authorized state and municipal pension credits for peacetime military service. The killing of the bill came just before Veterans Day and sparked a fair amount of criticism of the governor.
The legislation was authored by NY State-Senator William Larkin, who is a World War II combat Veteran. If approved, the bill would have amended current NY state law that provides up to three year’s credit toward public employee pensions for military service during hostilities. Veterans would have to pay three percent of their compensation during those military years to the retirement system.
In his veto message, Cuomo claimed that if he had enacted the bill, the state’s local governments would incur $57 million in near-term obligations while ignoring recently enacted pension reforms. The measure would also apply to every past member of the armed forces who is a member of any public employees’ retirement system. Cuomo also noted that the state associations of counties and mayors and the New York City mayor’s office all voiced opposition.
“If enacted, this bill would run roughshod over systemic reforms carefully negotiated with the Legislature to avoid saddling local property taxpayers with additional, unmanageable burdens,” Cuomo wrote.
The NY State Assembly passed the bill 133-1 on the last day of the legislative session back in June.
Assembly sponsors said the U.S. now depends on a volunteer military, and to encourage citizens to join, the state needs to recognize all Veterans by giving them pension access.
Many military and Veteran advocates were extremely disappointed by the veto. However, Cuomo did sign other bills that benefit Veterans. One new law is designed to increase the property tax exemption for Veterans from $5,000 to $7,500 of assessed value. Another new law provides a state income-tax check-off to donate to a homeless Veterans assistance fund.
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Military Connection: Veteran Bill Vetoed in NY: By Debbie Gregory