Editorial: Contract shouldn’t be a secret

Rushing through contract without details at last minute violates public trust

So apparently it’s not just Republicans in the U.S. Senate that like to sneak through important, expensive legislation without giving the public or elected officials much time to consider its implications.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had months to negotiate and release the terms of a new CSEA contract for 60,000 government employees — decided to wait until the Legislature was neck-deep in its annual end-of-session bill-passing-bonanza to announce the deal and put it before lawmakers to approve.

The deal and the bill supporting it were announced by the governor on Tuesday afternoon, the day before the scheduled end of the legislative session, with very few details provided to state lawmakers about the terms and the long-term financial impacts on the state and its taxpayers.

Anyone following the Republican health care bill through the U.S. Senate will recognize the strategy — keep something as secret as possible for as long as possible, limit debate, and get the legislation passed quickly before anyone can understand the flaws and mount opposing views.

What’s been leaked out about the CSEA contract, according to the Empire Center public policy organization, is that it provides annual raises of 2 percent a year over five years, meaning the workers will receive a collective raise of 10.4 percent through 2021.

That doesn’t include annual “step increases” and “longevity” milestones and bonuses that the state pays out and which significantly add to the cost of the contract long-term.

Any concessions the state received in exchange for the pay increases to offset the additional costs, the Empire Center stated, would have to be “fairly significant, or at the very least more than negligible” to soften the blow to taxpayers. Are they? We don’t know.

The bottom line is that neither the public, nor the lawmakers who were asked to vote on this amid the annual storm of other legislation, got a chance to vet the contract, ask questions or challenge the terms.

That’s not how government working on behalf of the people is supposed to function.

This is just another example of New  York state government ramming through costly legislation without the benefit of a full airing of the terms and implications.

The lesson is that if you want to get something done, do it in secret and do it as quickly as possible before people catch on to what you’re up to.

Kind of makes you wonder why you voted for any of these guys, doesn’t it?

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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