Confront Trump? NY lawmakers want pay raise first
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