NY Lawmakers Will Soon Be Highest Paid In The Nation With A 63% Pay Increase

Patch reports that New York lawmakers might want to put taxpayers on their holiday thank-you note lists. State legislators are set to get a hefty raise starting January 1, 2019, that will give them a higher salary than anywhere else in the nation.

The state’s Compensation Committee voted Thursday to increase legislators’ annual salary to $130,000 by 2021, up about 63 percent from their current pay of $79,500.

The state’s Compensation Committee voted Thursday to increase legislators’ annual salary to $130,000 by 2021, up about 63 percent from their current pay of $79,500. The hike will be phased in over three years, with the salary growing to $110,000 on Jan. 1 of next year and $120,000 in 2020.

The move marks the first raise in two decades for state lawmakers, who are only in session for about six months each year.

“While people may look at this as part-time employment, it is not,” said former city comptroller Bill Thompson, one of the commitee’s four members. “It is a full-time thing, and they are required, whether they are in Albany or in their districts, to do the job and do it admirably.”

With the first increase, New York will supplant California as the state where legislators have the highest salary. Lawmakers there earn a base pay of $107,241, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

But there’s a catch — the committee moved to cap lawmakers’ outside income at 15 percent of their salary starting on New Year’s Day 2020, similar to the limit in place for members of Congress.

It also recommended doing away with the stipends known as “lulus” that lawmakers get for chairing committees or taking other leadership roles, except for a small group of top legislators such as the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader.

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The committee must submit its recommendations in a report to the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo by December 10, 2018. They will take effect unless the Legislature moves to reject or amend them.

The committee comprising current and former state and city comptrollers also recommended raises for the four top statewide officials.

The panel concluded that the governor’s salary should gradually increase to $250,000 by January 1, 2021, up from $179,000 now. The pay for the lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller would rise to $220,000 by 2021 on a similar schedule. Only the recommendations for the latter two offices will be binding, officials said.

The panel also restructured and increased pay for commissioners of state agencies, with the top earners getting $220,000 starting in 2021.

Legislators’ salaries — and the limits on their outside pay — will soon be in line with City Council members, who earn $148,500 a year and have tight limits on income from other sources.

The raises will follow a string of ethics scandals in state government in recent years, at least one of which involved outside income.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on federal corruption charges stemming from kickback schemes in which he received millions of dollars in fees from law firms. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, was sentenced to seven years in prison in July.

Reinvent Albany, a good-government group praised the impending limits on stipends and outside pay as a step toward “a more effective and ethical government.”

“We hope the Committee’s actions today are the beginning of more reforms to come in ethics, campaign finance and voting that will fully restore confidence and integrity in New York State government,” the group said in a statement.

 

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