Mugging VSF Recipients

Chief Leader - February 08, 2011

by RICHARD STEIER

Editorial

There is a certain desperation in Mayor Bloomberg's proposal that would eliminate Variable Supplements Fund payments even for those police and fire retirees already receiving them. It has permeated his two-year campaign against the benefit, aided by media stooges who are willfully complicit or too ignorant to know the history of the benefit.

But the VSF was negotiated twice, by two previous Mayors, contrary to the current one's general claim that Albany is constantly saddling the city with onerous costs because legislators are in bed with the unions. The first time around, the Police and Fire Pension Funds got the right to invest in the stock market in return for granting the benefit; the second time, the unions took a reduced salary scale for their new members in return for a benefit that jumped from $1,700 to $2,500 a year and then slowly rose to the current $12,000 level. In the late 1990s, as the stock market boomed, it was estimated the city was $4 billion better off as a result of the second deal. As the Mayor seeks to legally mug uniformed retirees, it is notable that he hasn't asked to roll back the clock by ending the Police and Fire Pension Funds' stock-market investments.

What he is seeking is outrageous, and state legislators should react accordingly.