State law­mak­ers get­ting 3-year raise to­tal­ing 63%

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

New York law­mak­ers will soon make the high­est state leg­isla­tive salary in the coun­try after a state com­pen­sa­tion panel voted Thurs­day to raise their pay for the first time in 20 years.

The 63 per­cent in­crease will be phased in over three years, with leg­isla­tive pay go­ing from the cur­rent $79,500 a year to $110,000 on New Year’s Day 2019. Ad­di­tional in­creases in 2020 and 2021 will bump up the to­tal to $130,000.

New York now trails only Cal­i­for­nia and Penn­syl­va­nia when it comes to how much it pays its leg­is­la­tors. By com­par­i­son, mem­bers of Congress make a base salary of $174,000, while mem­bers

of the New York City Coun­cil make $148,000.

Many law­mak­ers — es­pe­cially those from high-cost ar­eas in and around New York City — have long ar­gued that their pay hasn’t kept up with in­fla­tion and doesn’t re­flect work they do out­side of the six-month leg­isla­tive ses­sion. But those

same law­mak­ers have been re­luc­tant to vote them­selves a pay raise, es­pe­cially fol­low­ing a num­ber of high­pro­file po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion con­vic­tions in re­cent years.

Mem­bers of the pay com­mit­tee also voted to limit how much money law­mak­ers can earn from out­side jobs, which were found to be con­duits for bribes in some past cor­rup­tion cases.

About a third of all law­mak­ers earn a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money from out­side

work. The pro­posal sug­gested by the com­mit­tee, sim­i­lar to the rules for mem­bers of the Congress, would cap that amount at no more than 15 per­cent of to­tal salary, be­gin­ning in 2020.

Sim­i­lar pro­pos­als have been blocked in the Se­nate in the past, but that cham­ber’s new leader, Sen. An­drea Ste­wart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said Thurs­day that she be­lieves her col­leagues would sup­port a cap on out­side pay. Democrats won con­trol of the

Se­nate from Repub­li­cans in last month’s elec­tions.

“My Se­nate Demo­cratic col­leagues and I con­tinue to sup­port that,” she said in a state­ment.

Good-gov­ern­ment groups have long pushed for broader re­forms to be in­cluded with any salary in­crease. Blair Horner, di­rec­tor of the New York Pub­lic In­ter­est Re­search Group, said Thurs­day that New York­ers aren’t likely to sup­port an in­crease in leg­isla­tive salaries that

doesn’t come with greater ethics re­forms.

“I think it will res­onate poorly,” he said of the pay hike.

The four-mem­ber pay com­mit­tee is made up of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; SUNY Board of Trustees Chair­man Carl McCall, a former state comptroller; and former New York City Comptroller Bill Thomp­son.

The com­mit­tee also rec­om­mended

in­creas­ing the pay of the gov­er­nor from the cur­rent $179,000 salary to $250,000 in 2021. That in­crease would need to be ap­proved by law­mak­ers.

The leg­isla­tive pay raise will go into ef­fect au­to­mat­i­cally on Jan. 1 un­less law­mak­ers vote to re­ject it. The pay com­mit­tee must sub­mit its de­ci­sions in a for­mal re­port by Mon­day. Law­mak­ers aren’t sched­uled to re­con­vene un­til the 2019 ses­sion be­gins Jan. 9.

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