Published in
The Empire

Council Speaker: home rule message 'likely' needed to nix 'bonus pay'

Mayor Bloomberg has made eliminating a $12,000 payment to uniformed firefighters and police officers a key push in his 2011 Albany legislative agenda.

He's gone as far to say that eliminating that payment could save thousands of teachers from being laid off. But when in Albany, the mayor was asked if a home rule message - a formal request from a local legislative body to state lawmakers - would be forthcoming on this.

Bloomberg said it probably wasn't needed. Bloomberg also said it's a controversial move and he would not be inclined to encourage City Council members to vote on a controversial piece of legislation if there was no guarantee that state lawmakers would also vote on it (which happened with congestion pricing).

In a Q&A with reporters after his testimony, Bloomberg reiterated a home rule message on eliminating the $12,000 payment  - something he's dubbed a "bonus" - would not be needed. The mayor said he didn't know "why" the home rule message would be needed, he told reporters. But if it was needed, the mayor said it would likely pass, once legislators (and the public) understood it was needed to save thousands of teacher jobs.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who testified about the budget here in Albany after Bloomberg, said a home rule message on the $12,000 payments probably was needed.

"It would most likely, yes, need a home rule message," said Quinn. "My sense is we would need one."