Archives for category: Triborough amendment

Under New York’s Triborough Amendment, the only law of its kind in the country, union contracts negotiated during good times cannot be re-negotiated during bad times. Not unless the union agrees.

That is our situation in Irvington today. We are saddled with a legacy contract negotiated during the boom, and nearly all of the provisions agreed to by the board when home prices were rising 10% a year live on in the new contract. Meanwhile the district reports that taxable assessments are down 10%, and the data I’ve seen suggest that individual homes have lost 20% of their value since the crash. Some residents have lost jobs, and wage growth across the country slowed radically after 2007, which means wage growth slowed radically for many here as well.

But Triborough, the single largest mandate imposed upon school districts by the state, has meant that the district must continue to fund roughly 4% increases for school employees each year. Funding 4% annual increases when your own compensation is not rising — and your home value has dropped — is pretty much the definition of “unsustainable,” and that is why the tax cap passed.

In truth, it’s the contracts that need to be capped. Not the budgets. But since Albany does not have the wherewithal to repeal Triborough, the problem has been left to voters to address inside the privacy of the voting booth.

Worker pay 2011 and 2012 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Worker Wages 2011 & 2012
“Most Americans are still far from the income they had before the crisis, and many of the new jobs are not particularly stable or high paying.”
After Cashing In on Job Cuts, Wall St. Looks to Worker Upturn
Published: March 10, 2013

Sticky wages in 2011 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Not your Father's bell curve - sticky wages

The tall bar in the middle represents workers who had a wage increase of $0 in 2011
People to the right of the bar had pay raises
People to the left of the bar had pay cuts
Why Has Wage Growth Stayed Strong?
By Mary Daly, Bart Hobijn, and Brian Lucking

IUFSD taxable assessments (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

3.5.2013 Taxable Assessments
Superintendent’s Proposed Budget
March 5, 2013

New York State School Board Association opposes Triborough, and Irvington’s BOE has voted to approve NYSSBA’s position.

Per pupil spending $28,517
ELA scores 12.18.2012
13 million jobs gap
Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo
Irvington Union Free School District

Letter: School districts need real reform
To the editor
Published 11:46 pm, Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Times Union

How can Gov. Andrew Cuomo say school officials do not have any mandate relief ideas that will save significant amounts of money (“Schools raise uproar for help,” Feb. 1)?

The New York State School Boards Association has repeatedly offered solutions for saving school districts money. We have even submitted written proposals to lawmakers to:

Place a limit on employer contributions to employee and retiree health care premiums. This would save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Eliminate automatic raises under expired teacher contracts. We estimate the Triborough Amendment costs districts $113 million annually.

Eliminate seniority as the sole criteria for staff layoffs. Given the needs of today’s students, the most qualified teacher may not be the one with the longest tenure.

Enact legislation to form regional high schools statewide, which are good alternatives for communities with declining enrollments and dwindling ability to offer college- and career-ready prep programs.

Authorize the state Education Department to hire hearing officers for teacher disciplinary cases, competent and trained professionals who would decide cases more quickly and save money.

Real relief requires reforming big cost drivers such as the ones mentioned above, rather than trimming around the margins. But if these issues are “political non-starters,” as the governor said, then real mandate relief will remain nothing more than a lofty goal.

We laud the governor and legislators for passing significant pension reform and cooperative purchasing last year that will save school districts and other local governments significant amounts of money in the long term. But school districts need immediate relief as well.

Executive director
New York State School Boards Association