New York’s growing six-figure-pension club

The hit on New York taxpayers continues to grow, with the number of $100,000-plus retirees up 20 percent last year.

As the Empire Center reported this week, the number of six-figure pensioners in the state pension system is nearing 5,000 — up 756, or 20 percent, from 3,817 in fiscal 2017. Of those, 20 rake in more than $200,000 a year; three get 300 grand-plus.

Heading the pack: Shashikant Lele, a retired doctor at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, who pulls in $436,356 annually.

You thought government salaries were high? At least staffers are expected to work in return for their fat pay. Yet those generous paychecks drive up retirement payouts. As do the ludicrously sweet pension terms OK’d by Albany over the years.

Trouble is, someone has to pay for that largesse, and that someone is New York taxpayers. State and local taxes must go to shore up the state pension funds that send checks to retirees. And that amount has grown a frightening 2,900 percent, from $164.5 million in 2000 to $4.8 billion in 2017.

The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon also links that spike to losses from risky investments the fund made in the hopes of higher returns — in a bid “to perpetuate the illusion” the state can make the juicy pension payouts without inflicting much pain on taxpayers.

Indeed, state comptroller candidate Jonathan Trichter this week is blasting incumbent Tom DiNapoli, who oversees the retirement system, for parking money in hedge funds and private-equity assets that “underperformed” the market by $8 billion.

The high $6 billion in fees Trichter says DiNapoli paid to managers of those funds only made things worse.

Meanwhile, state and local governments are left with an ever-shrinking share of tax revenue for non-pension expenses. Average New Yorkers, that is, pay more and get less.

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