The Citizens Budget Commission, a NYC-based budget watchdog organization, has added its voice to the list of those calling for rejection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial pension smoothing proposal, warning it has the potential to “endanger the future financial viability of the pension plans.”

In a letter sent today to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and R. Michael Kraus, president of the NYS Teachers Retirement System Board, CBC President Carol Kellermann noted the existence of the short-term pension “amortization” plan adopted in 2010, which already provides cash-strapped local governments with some breathing room.

“Although the CBC opposed this legislation, it was approved and has been used by 137 local governments and the State to lower short-run pension costs,” Kellermann wrote. “Additional underfunding options are not advisable.”

“…The full funding of New York’s pension systems is a nationally-recognized strength,” she continued. “The Pew Center on the States ranked New York 5th among states for its healthy funding ratio, with assets covering 94percent of liabilities in 2010. Proposals to permit lower contribution rates, no matter how well intentioned, can lead New York to slide down the rankings to join states facing crippling unfunded pension liabilities such as Illinois and Rhode Island.”

“Briefly put, the Governor’s proposal endangers the pension funds by promising a stable rate of contributions over a 25-year period, but the State is unlikely to be able to keep that promise.”

In short, Kellermann concluded, the governor’s proposal won’t provide “meaningful, long-term relief for municipalities in fiscal distress, and endangers the viability of the pension funds,” which is pretty much the argument others – including Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner – have been making for several weeks now.

The Cuomo administration’s basic response to these critics has been: Your numbers are wrong, and you don’t understand our proposal.

DiNapoli has expressed concern over the governor’s plan, but has yet to formally reject it out of hand.

CBC weighs in against governor’s pension smoothing proposal by liz_benjamin6490