Law Passed To Protect Police And Firemen Who Have Served On Active Duty

Martin J. Golden

August 12, 2008

Law Will Protect Police and Firemen who Have Served on Active Duty

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) today announced his legislation to protect employees of New York City who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from massive repayments of salary due to a technical flaw has become law. The new law corrects a problem with the city’s Differential Pay Program which required City Employees to pay back in a short time money they received while deployed. Importantly, there will also be a new system going forward, to eliminate any requirement for repayment.

"On 9/11, New Yorkers showed the best of their characters. Not only did we pull together to meet immediate crisis, we showed that we were in it for the long haul. Many of our public employees, such as police and firemen, joined the National Guard or the Military Reserves. They continued serving New Yorkers in the mountains of Afghanistan and in the deserts of Iraq. We owe it to them to protect them from a technical glitch," said Senator Golden.

Under the old plan that had been in place for the past several years, City employees called up to duty in Iraq and other combat zones received full city pay in addition to their military pay. They would then have had to repay the full amount within five years of their return. This requirement for sudden repayment had created a hardship for many of these soldiers.

Under Senator Golden’s new law, the total repayment is reduced by the use of two credits, to bring the repayment amount closer to the amount of after-tax cash actually received in salary. In addition, the repayment amount is fixed at 7.5% of salary as of the date of return, payable over ten years instead of five. This provides several advantages to the soldiers: the amount is realistic, the rate is lower, the payment is a fixed sum, and payments are made over a longer period, which reduces any balloon payment.

There are also statutory hardship payments in the bill, allowing for waiver of payment or term if there is an unforeseen or compelling change of circumstance. Finally, debt is forgiven if the soldier dies in combat. For those called up the future, after the effective date of the bill, the city will pay the difference between the military and the city salary, and there will be no requirement for repayment.

"A lot of people talk about doing the right thing for our service people. This bill does something meaningful by helping correct a problem started by a technical problem. Many of these people are used to putting their lives at risk for the people of New York City. We shouldn’t be creating a hardship for someone who has been protecting our Democracy. In fact, this law is a thank you for serving the people of our State and Nation," concluded Senator Golden.