New York lawmakers are considering December pay rises – but not rising crime

Money is speaking to Albany Democrats — at least more than ongoing calls to overhaul state bail laws.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Thursday did not rule out calling lawmakers back to Albany in December to approve a statutory pay rise after months of he and other Democrats fending off calls for a special session over rising crime.

“I didn’t say anything at that moment about coming back for a raise,” Heastie told reporters Thursday, before reiterating the phrase “at that moment.”

“I believe lawmakers need to be compensated for their hard work. People don’t realize the sacrifice they make when they are separated from their families,” he added.

State law bars the Albany legislature from receiving raises in the same two-year term as when they were approved, meaning the legislature could not receive a raise until 2025 unless they acted before the end of 2022.

A man walking
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie remained shy Thursday about whether lawmakers could approve a December pay rise.
James Keivom

“Please call me back to discuss this. We can’t come back to finish cashless bail but we might be called back to raise statutory salaries? I look forward to this debate,” said November elected Congressman Michael Lawler (R-Rockland). tweeted Thursday.

MP Ed Ra (R-Garden City) suggested that a pay rise now so soon after voters went to the polls would be particularly deaf.

“I don’t know what they heard campaigning, but I kept hearing, ‘You guys have to do something about this bail law,’ but nobody told us we needed a raise,” the Long Island Republican told the Post.

State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, who like other top lawmakers receives a stipend on top of his salary, noted in his own statement that New York “is facing an affordability crisis. A crime crisis,” and said it was “obviously offensive” that the Albany Democrats were discussing a pay rise.

Several Democratic lawmakers say discussions are also underway in the state Senate about a possible pay rise.

Representatives for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who are expected to approve a pay rise, did not comment on Thursday.

State lawmakers say their salaries will increase from $80,000 to $110,000 a year in early 2019, with a further increase on the back of recommendations from a controversial commission that lawmakers authorized in 2018, which also banned lawmakers from outside earnings.

“Some members are moody about external revenue, they want their pie and they want to eat it too,” a Democratic lawmaker told The Post on Thursday.

Litigation eventually voided moonlighting restrictions and the $30,000 originally planned to increase the legal salary to $130,000 by 2021 while maintaining the increase to $110,000.

New York lawmakers would edge out their counterparts in California, where lawmakers are paid $119,702 a year as the highest-paid in the nation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, if they decide to raise it to $130,000 in the coming weeks despite the political climate -dollar would approve setback.

A woman stands at a microphone with her arms raised.
A representative of the state Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, declined to comment on the increase in the Legislature’s salaries.
James Keivom

Some state legislators have found that inflation and the cost of living in New York City are affecting their ability to make ends meet while working in Albany, especially given the money they could be making in the private sector or elsewhere in government.

New York City Council members are currently making $148,500 by occupying lower-population counties without the hassle of hauling up the Hudson every week during the six-month legislative session, which begins in January.

State lawmakers have been criticized for record-high government spending, rising crime and a slew of scandals, including the resignation of ex-Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin earlier this year on his relationship with a campaign donor while serving in the state Senate.

But more money could mean fewer problems getting ahead, the Democratic lawmaker suggested.

“You get what you pay for,” the lawmaker added. New York lawmakers are considering December pay rises – but not rising crime


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