State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District) announced that both the New York State Senate and Assembly have passed legislation he supported that would crack down on “double dipping” at school districts and reform the pension system to better protect taxpayer dollars.
“‘Double-dipping’ hurts school taxpayers by driving up school district pension costs and spending thousands of school tax dollars. These reforms would crack down on ‘double dipping,’ raise the penalties for pension fraud, and increase transparency and accountability in school district spending so that taxpayers know exactly where their school tax dollars are going,” said Senator Fuschillo.
Under the legislation (S8699), which is supported by Senator Fuschillo and sponsored by Senators Dean Skelos and Ken LaValle:
* School districts would be required to publicly list all compensation, including salary and benefits, for all administrators. The list would be posted on the school’s web site and at public libraries within the school district.
* School districts would have to submit an annual list reporting the position and compensation of all employees granted waivers, and a list of all lawyers providing services and whether they are employees or independent contractors to the State Education Department, Comptroller and the Attorney General.
*Lawyers would be prohibited from simultaneously being an employee and an independent contractor for a school district or BOCES to provide legal services for that same district.
*The Attorney General would be allowed to bring action against lawyers who are not employees of a school district but improperly receive compensation or benefits. The Attorney General would be allowed to recover up to three times the person’s salary or other benefits that were fraudulently obtained.
* “Double dipping” loopholes would be closed through a stricter waiver process for hiring retirees. Retirees would be prohibited from returning to the same or a similar position for one year following retirement. Waivers could only be granted:
* When there is an urgent need for the retiree’s services in a particular position because of an unplanned, unpredictable and unexpected vacancy where sufficient time is not available to recruit a qualified individual, and such hiring shall be deemed as non-permanent, or,
* If the employer has undertaken extensive recruitment efforts to fill a vacancy and has determined that there are no available qualified non-retired candidates, and the employer must prepare a detailed recruitment plan to fill the vacancy on a permanent basis
*The penalty for pension fraud would be raised from a misdemeanor to a felony.
The legislation will be sent to Governor Paterson, who has expressed support for the reforms.
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