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After Water Authority golden parachute, Assembly limits severance deals

The State Assembly passed a bill Tuesday to ban golden parachutes as lavish as one the Erie County Water Authority wrote into a contract this year.

But the bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate, which wants to place its own limits on the severance that can go to managers leaving New York's public authorities.

Unless the competing measures are reconciled into identical bills approved by both houses, neither can reach the governor's desk to become law.

The Assembly bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Lancaster, after The Buffalo News revealed that a six-figure golden parachute was packed into a new contract for Earl L. Jann Jr., the Water Authority's Republican-picked executive director.

With Democrats poised to take over the agency this year, its Republican-run board of commissioners in January gave Jann a new contract requiring that he collect hundreds of thousands of dollars if fired without cause. The contract stipulates that Jann collect his approximately $150,000-a-year salary through the year 2020 if he is let go at any time before then without good reason.

Some Democrats agreed the parachute makes it too expensive to fire Jann, who got his job through political connections. He remains the Water Authority executive director.

Wallace called the Jann contract "government at its worst" and soon introduced a measure that would limit severance pay for so-called at-will employees to three months' salary when future employment contracts are drawn up at public authorities in the state. A Wallace aide said the full Assembly approved the bill without debate.

State legislator seeks cap on golden parachutes at public authorities

Her bill now moves to the Senate. But with no Republican sponsor, it is unlikely to pass in that house. Republicans have their own approach, which was introduced by Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer of Clarence.

Ranzenhofer, too, used strong language when he introduced his bill: “Six-figure golden parachutes that guarantee a payout of more than double an employee’s salary are a wasteful use of public resources,” he said in March, as he unveiled his measure to limit severance to 10 weeks of pay, two weeks less than Wallace proposed in the Assembly.

Ranzenhofer's bill, cosponsored by Sen. Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo, has passed a Senate committee but has not yet been approved by the full Senate. A Ranzenhofer aide said there is no indication yet that the Senate will vote on the bill in the remaining weeks of this year's session.

State senator introduces bill to cap 'golden parachutes' for authority workers

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