Residents travel to Albany to support tax relief efforts

A bus of Long Island residents traveled to Albany today to support State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick's bill to eliminate step increases for teachers. The bill

A bus of Long Island residents traveled to Albany today to support State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick's bill to eliminate step increases for teachers.

A bus of Long Island residents traveled to Albany today to support State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick's bill to eliminate step increases for teachers. (1/28/14)

BRENTWOOD - A bus of Long Island residents traveled to Albany today to support State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick's bill to eliminate step increases for teachers.

Step increases are automatic pay hikes that most teachers receive annually. Fitzpatrick says taxpayers can no longer afford them.

His bill would eliminate step increases when contracts expire. It would also cap any binding arbitration awards to 2 percent, and would establish a 401K-type pension system for new state employees.

Teachers unions are against the proposal. They say they are not allowed to strike in New York.  Teachers also argue if the step increases aren't in place during contract talks, then the districts would have no incentive to negotiate.

“It maintains the balance in collective bargaining,” said Kevin Coyne, of the Brentwood Teachers Association. “If those things were not there, it does not force the employer to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.”

Democrats who control the Assembly have shot down similar proposals in the past. Experts say this latest attempt will likely meet the same fate.

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