The Putnam Examiner

NY State Lawmakers Set For Large Pay Raise

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Being a New York State lawmaker will soon be a more lucrative job once the new legislative session starts next year with the discussions of a large pay bump for elected pols gaining speed.

The state’s 213 lawmakers will likely see their base pay spike from their current salary of $79,500 to $130,000 by 2021, which would be a 63 percent increase, as recommended by a state compensation committee earlier this month. The pay bump would be phased in over three years, with lawmakers potentially making $110,000 as soon as this January. By 2021, New York legislators would be the highest paid elected officials in the country, after not getting a pay increase sine 1998.

The pay raise would come with a caveat though. Outside income earned by lawmakers could be limited to 15 percent of their base pay and many stipends that legislators receive for chairing committees would be discontinued, unless for a small handful of leadership positions in the chambers.

The pay raises are expected to begin unless lawmakers vote to turn down their own raises, which seems unlikely. The limit on outside income would start by 2020.

GOP lawmakers that represent parts of Putnam slammed the idea.

Assemblyman Kevin Byrne has long opposed any pay raise for elected officials and believes the current salary for a part- time position is adequate and should not be raised until New York improves its tax and business climate. In 2018, he voted against a budget bill that created the committee that eventually decided to funnel more money to lawmakers.

Byrne worked with Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis (who is now Senator-elect) to request the committee target double dipping of state lawmakers.

“Instead, the committee provided other recommendations which I believe were outside its scope,” Byrne said. “The committee’s recommendations will only propel the development of career politicians, and make life as a citizen legislator nearly impossible.”

NYS Sen. Sue Serino, in a statement, said now is not the right time for lawmakers to earn more money considering the number of residents still struggling to make ends meet and with legislative proposals looming that could result in increased taxes. Serino, who has even refused taxpayer funded reimbursement, said this pay increase would “absolutely encourage” lawmakers to become career politicians.

“What’s worse, this process completely circumvented the voices of New Yorkers by bypassing the legislature and the very people elected to represent them,” Serino, who owns a realty company, said. “For me, this job has always been about the people, not about the paycheck, and I will continue to put the needs of those I represent above all else. I urge the new leadership in Albany to find a way to bring this proposal to a vote before the Legislature so that New Yorkers get a real say in the process.”

Outgoing NYS Sen. Terrence Murphy said there are many things wrong with the possible pay raise. (Peter Harckham, who beat Murphy this past election to take his 40th senate seat, previously signaled support for a pay raise if it resulted in ethics reform, including limiting outside income.)

“Not only did we forfeit a prime opportunity to finally get term limits but limiting outside income sends a clear message that citizen legislators are no longer welcomed to be active participants in our state government,” Murphy said in a statement. “This decision will only act as seeds that will grow career politicians – which I can tell you firsthand is exactly why our state government continues to fail New York taxpayers.”

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