Dec 15, 2011

Roundtable With Public Advocate's Office Examines NYC's Long-Term Liabilities

Rising costs and budget reductions are forcing New York City leaders to grapple with the long-term financial impact of City retirees' pension and health care benefits. At present, about 20 percent, or $13 billion, of the City's annual budget pays those expenses. This portion arises from collective bargaining agreements, the ups and downs of the stock market, the dynamics and costs of health care, demographics, and other factors.

Weaving questions of public finance and public policy, a December 12 roundtable discussion at NYU Wagner on the City's long-term liabilities drew more than 100 guests, as leading experts explained the hard numbers and difficult choices associated with the public cost of health care for city and state employees, both active and retired, in the years ahead.

The discussion was the second of three roundtables on long-term liabilities cosponsored by The Fund for Public Advocacy; the Office of Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate for the City of New York; as well as by NYU Wagner and the Wagner Economics and Finance Association.

"It's the 20 percent of the budget that we tend to talk about the least," noted De Blasio, who explained that the question of how long-term liabilities are handled is critical to sustaining the City's strengths as a major local employer and an indispensable provider of public services.

The event included a keynote address on Federal health care liabilities by Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and a panel discussion with Carol Kellermann, president of the Citizens Budget Commission; Bruce McIver, president, the Voluntary League of Hospitals and Homes New York; Carol O'Cleireacain, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and New York Times columnist Michael Powell (moderator).

Reshma Saujani, executive director, Fund for Public Advocacy, and deputy advocate for special initiatives at the Office of the Public Advocate, delivered opening remarks, as did Neil Kleiman, special advisor to the NYU Wagner dean.

The series is being presented with the help of generous support from The New York Community Trust and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.


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