GOLDEN: NO LONGER SHALL CITY EMPLOYEE SOLDIERS REPAY SALARY UPON RETURN FROM WAR
Senate Adopts The Public Servants Soldier Salary Act
Measure Protects Police, Firemen, and City Employees Who Have Served on Active Duty
Albany- Senator Martin J. Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) today announced passage of legislation he sponsored, S. 6180-A, that protect employees of New York City who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from massive repayments of salary due to a technical flaw in current law. The bill corrects a problem with the city’s Differential Pay Program which required New York City employees to pay back in a short time money they received while deployed. Importantly, the bill also sets up 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 respond to the immediate crisis, we became a people committed to, in the memory of those lost, ensuring that such an attack will never happen again on American soil. 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 that as it stands, hurts their ability to provide for their families," said Senator Golden.
Under the plan that has been in effect 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. However, these same individuals have had to repay the full amount within five years of their return, and this sudden repayment has created a hardship for many of these soldiers.
Senator Golden’s bill takes measures to ease this burden for our returning soldiers who double as City employees. For people in the current plan, 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 in 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 how important it is to do the right thing for our service people who allow us to live in freedom. This bill takes such action correcting a problem started by a technicality. It was necessary that we eliminate this hardship for someone whom we are so proud of and grateful for protecting our Democracy," concluded Senator Golden.
The bill was sent to the Assembly. Assemblyman Rory Lacman (D-Queens) is the Assembly sponsor.