New York City could face the same dire fiscal situation as Detroit unless the next mayor gets realistic with municipal unions and reins in soaring pension and health-care costs, Mayor Bloomberg warned yesterday.
“Avoiding the hard choices is how Detroit went bankrupt,” the mayor declared in a speech in Brooklyn.
So in 3 terms, what hard choices has Bloomberg actually made? None. What does it say about his time in office that his parting address is to tell the city that they’re not too far away from turning into Detroit.
With less than five months left in his term, Bloomberg hailed the city’s diverse revenue base while cautioning that the contracts the next mayor signs with municipal unions could determine the city’s fate for the near future.
Bloomberg went on to slam the health-care freebies city workers enjoy and even praised his sometimes-foe, Gov. Cuomo, for demanding and winning concessions from state workers.
“About 95 percent of our employees and retirees contribute nothing — not even a dollar — to their basic health-care premiums. Compare that to state government, where more than 90 percent of workers contribute to their premiums,” the mayor said.
So why didn’t Bloomberg do anything about it, instead of letting the unions kick the can down the road? Bloomberg talks tough when it comes to gun owners, but buckled in to the unions.
During Bloomberg’s three terms, pension costs have ballooned from $1.4 billion to $8.3 billion. The mayor argued that his successor will have a unique opportunity to extract concessions because all municipal unions are all operating under expired agreements.
“They will not be willing to wait another four years for new contracts,” he said. “In fact, there may never be an opportunity quite like this again.”
They won’t need to. The odds are good that they’ll be dealing with one of their pet Dems. And yes, that way leads Detroit.