Apr 10, 2014|
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
Our guest on the WBA light like Tim hole for executive director of the empire center for public policy. We are examining the decision in the town of -- this week not to take away a lifetime health care for certain town employees and it made us wonder. How common is this for a municipalities to offer lifetime health care Tim good morning. Is -- unique. And not in this scenario that they offer this and this is a this is a benefit that was offered on. Widely and it's becoming less and less prominent as that he -- stick by. I think you have to have the proper question here is this something that is sustainable in the long run. I think the private sector would -- now because it's a benefit that is largely not -- Tend to move local boards sometimes try to sneak the stuff has taxpayers shall be -- will notice. I can't say for sure but I mean I think if we look at what's happening in Amherst and the outrage it's cost and other people know about it. And if there was something he wanted to keep it would certainly behoove you to do it quietly. Continue put a price on a benefit like this. He I mean they -- so I did the real issue with the benefit of retiree health care in the system that we have now. Is that it's not paid for when it happened so this -- you go to system means that. We as taxpayers paying for that. After the retiree who argue left public service so we don't put anything -- we -- that money away to pay for Pittsburgh in the hills Condo so we're looking at and it's statewide. A quarter of a trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities for heart health care. That's a big number and in Amherst alone it's somewhere around -- 145 million dollars. So if it's no small. Besides lifetime health insurance benefits. Any other issues that we should know about what John for like pensions anything else. Lives and you I think you can make it and I have made the same argument about oh the way that are pensions systems are funded again this is the benefit that is -- Is that largely provided on in the private sector because it's not sustainable future cannot subsidized by taxpayers. And and that sort of this system where you have a benefit to defined benefit rather than defined contribution system. It's that there really unsustainable in the long run and essentially you're just you keep kicking the can down the road in the somebody else pay for something that that has -- -- It does your son of the entire senate does it take a stand. And and things like this. I mean we take a stand in terms. We can look at the numbers and know that this isn't something that localities can afford that taxpayers can afford. So we've we've made host of solutions. Policy recommendations of ways to make this better. For instance we're talking about retiree health care. You could preserve the bands that of having health care for retirees. By creating something called. A retiree medical trust where the government might make a contribution. To a trust that is run by employees. Not -- -- So that when they do retire they have this pot of money they can just -- -- medical expenses and their their insurance. And what that does is that allows you to really actually anomaly caught the the payment on it and you pay for when the employees acted so you're not you don't have any of the legacy cost that we're paying for 203040 years in the future. Still we're focusing on the town of Amherst now where the so lifetime health. Insurance issue is sort of controversial but still it passed before the town board. As you do your research and you do your watchdogs. Efforts across New York State and the other communities. Do anything unusual like there's anything that flows to the top you can tell us about. I would actually say that we're seeing sort of the reverse of the strike because as we sort of come to terms with the new economic reality where. There's less money and and you know we're trying to bright side government and and preserve services. There are a lot of local government process stated that are making these choices saying OK well here's something right. There's this free or or reduced rate retiree health care that isn't something that people actually expect -- that that the benefit that we have to provide. To maintain the best employees. On so we're seeing the trend that is the sort of going west. Interesting stuff Tim thanks for joining us this morning we appreciate it. Tim hopper executive director of the empire center for public policy.