NYS lawmakers are considering a ban on third-party earnings to boost their own pay before the special session

A $20,000 pay rise could cost state lawmakers their side hustles as Albany Democrats plan to hold a special legislative session next week to increase their own pay despite criticism of how it might work with regular New Yorkers.

State lawmakers could reconvene as early as next Thursday to increase their taxpayer-funded salaries from $110,000 to $130,000 a year while limiting their undeclared work to a total of about $20,000, an Albany source told The Post Friday With.

“Like everyone else, we have all been hit by inflation and other costs. That’s why I’m in favor of a raise, and I think it’s okay not to allow outside income,” said Rep. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).

But Republicans say a special session on pay would only show that despite calls to action in recent months, Democrats are more concerned about their own profits than grappling with challenges like rising costs of living and rising crime.

“It’s hard to believe that a pay rise will go down well with New Yorkers. In an average year, it’s a tough sell. But in a year when inflation has crushed everyone? The optics cannot be ignored,” said Assembly Minority Chairman William Barclay (R-Fulton).

The Albany State Senate chambers are pictured from a balcony.  The lawmaker currently makes $110,000 a year but is aiming for a raise.
State legislators currently make $110,000 a year but are targeting a pay rise.

“I find it patently preposterous that in the middle of a recession we are being called to a special session to give politicians a raise without doing anything to fix the disastrous cashless bail law,” said outgoing Rep. Michael Lawler (R – Rockland), who was among the New York Republicans who clinched surprise wins in congressional races last month.

“He tells you all about the priorities of the Democratic Party in New York. They clearly learned nothing from the November election,” added the incoming congressman.

New York lawmakers are the second highest-paid in the nation — California state legislators earn $119,702 a year — though current salaries for the New York State Senate and Assembly are $38,500 below the $148,500 are paid to members of the Big Apple City Council.

A 2018 commission authorized by the state legislature secured pay rises from $80,000 to $110,000, with plans for a further $20,000 increase eventually thrown out by the courts along with restrictions on outside earnings.

Previous scandals have highlighted how side jobs like legal work have helped elected officials like longtime House Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was eventually convicted on federal corruption charges, betray public trust.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, pictured at a lectern, says lawmakers should limit external revenue when approving a pay rise for themselves.
Gov. Hochul says lawmakers should cap external revenue when approving a pay rise.
William Farington

However, some Democrats and Republicans say working outside of the legislature keeps its members grounded in the real world.

“I’m a pharmacist, the majority of people like the fact that I have one foot in the private sector and the other in the public sector,” said John McDonald III (D-Albany).

“You always hear people getting annoyed with the term ‘career politician’. If you deprive representatives of the ability to work outside of the legislature, that’s what you get,” Barclay said.

The state Senate and Assembly meet for the first six months of the year, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy serving in both chambers year-round, according to lawmakers.

“Our job goes beyond budgeting and passing legislation. We have a great responsibility here in our districts to help our constituents with many issues, and you will be surprised at what people are asking of us,” Rosenthal said.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have not said publicly whether a special session will be held next week, although Heastie recently expressed his support in principle for a pay rise.

One concern for lawmakers is whether they could limit a special session to just the issue of pay and outside income, given how some members of the state Senate and Assembly may want to see action on other issues as well.

“I support a salary increase with no outside income,” said Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens).

“I hope I can count on my peers who vote for an increase to move quickly to support my bill to raise the minimum wage,” she added.

Acting before the end of December on pay rises would ensure they could take effect in January rather than 2025, as state regulations prevent lawmakers from increasing their own pay before they face voters.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday state lawmakers should limit outside income if they return to Albany next week to approve a pay rise she could veto.

“It seems that if you have a raise, that would be something I think people would expect – in the interests of transparency and accountability,” the governor said.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/16/nys-lawmakers-mull-outside-income-ban-ahead-of-special-session-to-raise-their-own-pay/ NYS lawmakers are considering a ban on third-party earnings to boost their own pay before the special session


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