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Letter: Cuomo, legislators must correctly align interest rate

Tucked into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s massive state budget proposal there is a single paragraph that could have enormous positive implications for New Yorkers. The paragraph proposes that New York change the way interest is calculated in our court system.

Currently, New Yorkers pay 9% interest on judgments and verdicts while they await appeal. And while you may not be the defendant in a civil case, you are paying this exorbitant interest rate.

New York State’s cities and towns are the frequent targets of civil litigation and we, as taxpayers, are often left paying the bill. The government of New York City spends more on lawsuits than the next nineteen largest U.S. cities combined, and here in upstate our municipalities pay over a billion dollars a year.

Facing a six-billion-dollar deficit, Cuomo has sought to reduce our state’s legal bills by connecting the interest paid to the federal funds rate, rather than the insane current flat rate of nine percent.

Who could possibly oppose this clear and common-sense change?

The personal injury trial lawyers who are happy to collect 9% interest from the state’s taxpayers. We suggest that the governor and legislature prioritize the needs of our taxpayers and local governments over the greed of the state’s trial lawyers and finally put our state’s judicial interest rate in line with reality.

Tom Stebbins

Albany

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