Legislators debate pay raise issue

NY Capitol News

Now that the election is over, legislators turn once again to the issue of a pay raise. A legislative pay commission was approved in last year’s budget, but the commission waited to hold its first meeting until Tuesday.

Legislators in New York have not received a pay raise for 20 years. The base salary for both the governor and legislators are still the third highest in the country.

The base salary for lawmakers is $79,500 dollars which was set in 1998. Lawmakers receive an additional stipend for every time they travel to and from Albany and when they have a leadership role in a committee.

“Basically, everyone in the Senate is eligible for these stipends and the majority of the Assembly as well. The stipends can range anywhere from $9,000 a year at a low to $41,500 a year,” Blair Horner, the Executive Director of NYPIRG, said.

Still, if you compare this amount legislators are making to how much members of Congress are making which is around $174,000 a year, it’s still substantially lower.

“If they’re going to get an increase, it should be looked at in the context of what’s the reasonable way to pay people.”

The former state comptroller Carl McCall, current state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and CUNY Board Chairman Bill Thompson were all appointed to be a part of this year’s pay commission. This has brought on a lot of criticism by those who believe a pay raise for legislators should be looked at independently.

“When we talk about independent we think about people who don’t have political skin in the game, in the outcome, and when we envision that we don’t envision elected officials that rely on political parties for their support.”

The commission was supposed to meet earlier this summer but cancelled. Also, it is supposed to be an open process, but state comptroller’s office did not return any calls regarding the meeting in New York City.

“They haven’t had an open process to date, we’ll see what happens now that the election is over.”

Any deal on a finalized pay increase would have to be approved by December 31st since Lawmakers are not allowed to give themselves raises during their next two-year term.

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