Gov. David A. Paterson and legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to allow the state and municipalities to borrow nearly $6 billion to help them make their required annual payments to the state pension fund.
And, in classic budgetary sleight-of-hand, they will borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund — from the same pension fund.
As word of the plan spread, some denounced it as a shell game and a blatant effort by state leaders to avoid making difficult decisions, like cutting government spending or reducing pension benefits.
“It’s a classic Albany example of kicking the can down the road,” said Harry Wilson, the Republican candidate for comptroller, who holds an M.B.A. from Harvard.
Pension costs for the state and municipalities are soaring, a result of enhanced retirement benefits for public employees and the decline in the stock market over the past two years. And, given declines in tax revenue and larger budget shortfalls, the governments are struggling to come up with the money to make the contributions.
Under the plan, the state and municipalities would borrow the money to reduce their pension contributions for the next three years, in exchange for higher payments over the following decade. They would begin repaying what they borrowed, with interest, in 2013.
But Mr. Paterson and other state officials hope the stock market will have rebounded to such a degree by that time that the state’s overall pension contribution burden will have been reduced.
The maneuver would cost the state and local governments about $1.85 billion in interest payments, according to an estimate by the State Senate, though a number of factors could drive interest payments up or down.
Another oddity of the plan is that the pension fund, which assumes its assets will earn 8 percent a year, would accept interest payments from the state that would probably be 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent.
And here these guys would make fun of my father, who never graduated from high school, for saying, "if you can't write a deal out on a cocktail napkin, it's too complicated".
And these guys want to regulate derivatives when they throw this plan out there?
So when you can't borrow anymore from others just borrow against yourself?
Now that's "progressive"!