Unfortunately, a couple of points in your Feb. 9 editorial "Unfunded politics" are based on a lack of information.
You state that the New York State pension fund would lose money if payments from some local governments are deferred for six weeks, as proposed by New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi. In fact, the pension fund will collect interest at 8% for those six weeks. This information was not included in the press reports, so it is understandable that you missed it.
You state that the fund will also lose money from a proposal to defer contributions until 2005. This relates to a small technical correction in last year's pension legislation that allows the state and local governments to borrow from the fund a portion of their contribution in 2004. If they choose to borrow from the fund, they also pay 8% per year to the fund.
Comptroller Hevesi is a fiduciary with the responsibility to protect and strengthen the State Common Retirement Fund. He takes that responsibility very seriously and will never agree to proposals that would weaken the fund. He has agreed to proposals that either strengthen the fund or have no impact and also help local governments adjust to the fact that pension costs, which were unusually low in the 1990s, are returning to more normal rates.
Pension contributions to the NYS fund in the 1970s and 1980s averaged 17% of payroll for regular employees, much higher for police and fire. They were much lower in the 1990s, thanks to the stock market boom. We are now telling employers to expect to contribute about 12% a year, which is still relatively low by historical standards.
communications director, New York State Comptroller's Office