New York lawmakers are once again considering giving themselves a pay raise. If approved, it would be the first since the turn of the millennia.
“We are so deeply sympathetic to anyone who hasn’t received a raise in nearly two decades,” NYPIRG Dir. Blair Horner said.
If lawmakers kept pace with inflation, they would be making closer to $120,000 a year. But the same goes for the salaries of the average New Yorker, and Horner asked the commission what example they wanted to set for the public.
“Given Albany’s unending political scandals, how will it sit with the public who has to pay for it?” he asked. “How will the public feel about a pay raise for Albany when the Governor and the legislators are not tackling the biggest scandals.”
Another issue raised was that lawmakers are only working part-time.
“If you’re going to be paid a higher salary, you should stay and do work for the entire year,” Former Green Party Candidate for State Comptroller Mark Dunlea said.
Lawmakers currently make $80,000 for part-time work, but New York State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, who is also part of the pay commission, stated that a lawmaker’s work rarely ends when they go home.
“Constituents expect to meet with you, to advoate, need help on local issues, on personal concerns,” he said. “It’s a full-time job.”
The pay commission said many people are opposed to lawmakers receiving a salary increase without some sort of stipulation. Whether it be a full-time legislature or cutting off outside income for lawmakers, the comptroller said that he doesn’t know if the pay commission can do this, but does think Albany needs to catch up with the times.
“Outside income has been the source of some of what has resulted in criminal charges, so I think there is an appropriate concern on limiting that if not outright banning it,” DiNapoli said.
The commission will hold one more public hearing in New York City later this week, which will include testimony from the Speaker of the Assembly, who is in favor of a pay raise.
The commission’s recommendation must be on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk by December 10.