November 7, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Fresh off the heels of Bill de Blasio’s victory to be the next mayor of New York City, four panelists convened by the Association for a Better New York debated how will the new mayor resolve outstanding issues such as health care costs and financing the MTA’s next five year capital program. Watch Video
Carol Kellermann, president of the Citizens Budget Commission, said that health care costs for city public unions are rising and the new mayor has to curb those costs.
“Two items that are rapidly growing are the debt service and health insurance coverage for public employees, which are now about $70 billion and they’re expected to grow by 30 to 40 percent over the next few years,” said Kellermann.
In an interview Kellermann said the city could save money by requiring public employees to pay towards their health care coverage as other municipal workers do around the country.
“You could save $1 billion if public employees paid 10 percent of their premium. It not only would save money, it would also have the effect of making the consumers of the health insurance more conscious of the cost,” Kellerman said.
She also noted the MTA’s system has considerable capital needs, about $25 billion required for the next capital plan, but that nobody has figured out how to pay for it. New revenue streams will have to be identified to pay for it rather than relying on more borrowing because the MTA already has a heavy debt load.
Kellermann said in the interview that drivers crossing over East River bridges into Manhattan should be tolled.
“These are not popular things, but more fees on drivers who really benefit from the fact that people take mass transit and therefore they’re not literally in bumper to bumper traffic when they drive into the city,” said Kellerman.
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