Gov. Cuomo vetoes 20-year retirement option for sheriffs, corrections
Despite the bill’s strong support from both Republicans and Democrats, Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently vetoed legislation that would have expanded the retirement options for county corrections officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Both the state assembly and state senate versions of the bill, (S.1850/A.6377), were passed by the Legislature and delivered to the governor for his signature on Nov. 1. The bill passed 140-3 in the Assembly and 58-1 in the Senate.
However, the governor said the bill would place a financial burden on the counties.
Cuomo said, “I have repeatedly vetoed similar or identical bills because they offer additional pension benefits without any funding.” However, he said the issue could be revisited as part of the annual budget negotiations.
The bill, which legislators may re-introduce in January, would allow county correction officers and deputy sheriffs who are engaged in correction officer duties the option of a special 20-year retirement plan, where they could retire with half their annual salary.
As written, the bill gives the counties the option to participate or not. The bill’s justification paragraph states that county correction officers and deputy sheriffs doing corrections duty “work under some of the most dangerous and stressful conditions. They are faced with the daily challenge of effectively managing an overcrowded inmate population. During their shift, these law enforcement professionals are confined with the worst individuals society has to offer: murderers, child molesters, rapists, drug dealers and violent gang members. With the closing of mental health institutions, prisons and jails are housing the mentally disturbed who are a danger to themselves and to the men and women that staff the correctional facility… Dealing with the occupational stresses can pose pervasive problems for these dedicated public servants including a lowered life expectancy, depression, substance abuse, and even suicide.”
Noting that county CO’s and deputy sheriffs receive lesser pension benefits compared to other law enforcement personnel, the legislation aims to put an end to the disparity.