NEW YORK CITY — The state Senate unanimously passed a bill that would restore full disability pension equality to newly hired police officers and firefighters, officials told DNAinfo New York.
The mayor and the City Council have resisted the city’s police and fire unions’ call to reverse the current two-tiered disability system created six years ago under Gov. David Paterson.
Under current law, police officers and firefighters hired after July 2009 and disabled in the line of duty are not entitled to a traditional tax-free pension, calculated at three-quarters of their final year’s salary.
When Officer Rosa Rodriguez was seriously injured a year ago in a Coney Island fire that killed her partner, DNAinfo New York reported that she would likely become the first officer to face the reduced pension — 50 percent of her final year’s salary, minus half of any Social Security disability payments she might receive.
The state Senate bill — introduced by Brooklyn Sen. Martin Golden — sidesteps opposition from the mayor and City Council, and may not require so-called “home rule” support from the city leaders, state Sen. Diane Savino said.
The bill will now go to the Assembly for a vote and, if it passes, then heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has already said he supports reversing the disability inequity.
DNAinfo New York also disclosed that rookie Officer Kenneth Healey, who was slammed in the head by a hatchet-wielding man in Queens, would receive only $27 per day under the 2009 change.
Mayor Bill de Blasio initially dug in his heels against restoring the pension benefits, saying it was too costly.
Then two weeks ago, the mayor surprised the unions with a proposal that would improve the pensions for disabled officers and firefighters and address the inequity.
“Brave public servants put their lives on the line each day to protect this city, and today we are letting them know: We are there for you too,” de Blasio said at the time.
But the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Uniformed Firefighters Association leadership immediately rejected his plan, insisting that the only morally acceptable change would be full equality in disability pension.
The union leaders now plan to hold a demonstration Friday morning on the steps in front of City Hall calling for the mayor and City Council to support a complete restoration of benefits, they said.