Court rules outside income allowed for NY lawmakers

Local News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEXSTAR) – The State of New York Supreme Court issued a ruling Friday on Pay Commission recommendations that include the issue of outside-income for state lawmakers.

For some state lawmakers, working in the Capitol isn’t their only gig when they’re out of session.

“For example, when I came into the assembly, I maintained my very small solo practice where I mostly work in family court,” Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-112th District) said.

Walsh has been a practicing attorney for more than 30 years.

A 2018 state Pay Commission report recommended future caps on outside income and activities.

“I was concerned when the pay commission first came down because they said two things as far as outside income they said that there would be a hard cap of 18,000 that could be earned, but if you were considered to be a fiduciary which would include attorneys than you couldn’t have any outside income.”

Lawmaker’s salaries were bumped up to $110,000 this year, and were recommended to be brought to $130,000 by January of 2021.

At the same time, outside income would be capped at 15 percent beginning 2020.

Walsh believes it could lead to a “brain drain.”

“Particularly to just say that some people would be able to earn absolutely no outside income and have to completely give up their practice, I didn’t care for that decision, although if I had to choose I probably would have eliminated my outside practice, but I think a lot of my colleagues wouldn’t have made that decision.”

Friday’s court ruling called the outside income recommendations ‘null and void,’ and says salaries implemented this year should remain.

What happens to the future scheduled pay bumps is uncertain.

A spokesperson from the state comptroller’s office said they are “reviewing the decision” and that they “have no comment at this time.”

We also reached out to Speaker Heastie’s office for comment, but have not yet received a response.

The decision can be appealed.

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