Con­front Trump? NY law­mak­ers want pay raise first

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -


While Demo­cratic law­mak­ers in other states seek to unify against Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, those in New York are fo­cused on try­ing to raise leg­isla­tive pay to nearly $100,000 a year. Some pun­dits say the ma­neu­ver­ing to con­vene a spe­cial ses­sion to push the pay raise through ei­ther be­fore or just af­ter Christ­mas is a case study in mis­placed pri­or­i­ties and outof-touch po­lit­i­cal op­tics.

“There are a mil­lion things they could be do­ing, and their pri­or­ity is clearly get­ting them­selves more money,” said Doug Kel­logg, of the group Re­claim Albany. “It’s the hol­i­days and peo­ple are busy and fo­cused on other things. Law­mak­ers know this is un­pop­u­lar and they’re try­ing to duck ac­count­abil­ity.”

Mem­bers of New York’s As­sem­bly and Se­nate now make $79,500 for what is tech­ni­cally a part-time job. It’s the third-high­est leg­isla­tive salary in the na­tion, but hasn’t been in­creased in 17 years. One pro­posal would boost it to $99,500, which would give New York law­mak­ers the sec­ond- high­est salary, just be­hind No. 1 Cal­i­for­nia at $100,000. An­other would raise it even higher, to $116,000.

Law­mak­ers had hoped a state com­mis­sion would au­tho­rize an in­crease, but the panel balked at the idea last month. That forced the is­sue back to the Leg­is­la­ture, which must ap­prove a raise by Dec. 31 for it to take ef­fect next year. “Peo­ple should be paid what they de­serve,” ar­gued As­sem­bly Speaker Carl Heastie, who has led the cham­ber’s Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in clam­or­ing for the pay raise.

Re­pub­li­cans have been qui­eter in call­ing for the in­crease, with some con­cerned that in ex­change for a bump in their leg­isla­tive pay they would have to agree to give up the money they make from law firms and other out­side em­ploy­ment. The re­quest comes at an es­pe­cially awk­ward time for Democrats fol­low­ing a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that handed their party a his­toric de­feat. —AP

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