New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said he won't allow the $132.6 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, to be used to help balance the state's budget, according to a posting on the comptroller's website.
“There have been a number of outrageous and unfounded rumors and erroneous press reports that I will allow a raid of the pension fund to balance the state budget,” Mr. DiNapoli, sole trustee of the state fund, said in the posting. “Let me be very clear: The pension fund will not be used to balance the budget.”
New York is in the middle of a budget crisis. On Monday night, the Legislature approved an emergency funding bill that temporarily averted a state shutdown as legislators and Gov. David A. Paterson continue wrangling over projected deficits and proposed spending cuts.
Approval of a final budget is way overdue; the official deadline was April 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. The latest emergency legislation was the 11th proposed by Mr. Paterson and approved by lawmakers.
Mr. DiNapoli's comments were a response primarily to a June 11 published report that said legislators and the governor had “tentatively agreed” to a plan that would allow the state and municipal governments to borrow $6 billion to help them make required payments to the retirement fund. The published report said they would borrow the money from the fund.
Under the plan, according to the published report, the state and municipal governments would borrow the money to reduce their pension contributions to the fund for the next three years, in exchange for higher payments over the subsequent 10 years. They would begin repaying what they borrowed, with interest, in 2013.
“I will fight any raids on the New York State Common Retirement Fund,” Mr. DiNapoli said in the website posting. “Shame on those individuals who are playing politics, trying to mislead taxpayers and scare members and retirees who rely on the fund for their financial security. The fund is not a political football … The State Comptroller's office has a long history of protecting the fund from raids. I will protect the fund from any raids under any circumstances.”