Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday gave her blessing for state lawmakers to return to Albany in the coming weeks for a special session to raise statutory salaries — despite months of refusing to call them back to address rising crime.
“I think they deserve a raise. You work very hard. It’s a year-round job. I have been with them in their districts many times and they have worked very hard and they deserve it. It’s up to them whether they want to come back and do this effectively or not,” Hochul told reporters on Friday.
The comments follow reports that some lawmakers are pushing for the Assembly and Senate to meet again before the end of the year to pass legislation that will increase their salaries from $110,000 to $130,000 a year, in time for it to go into effect in January kicks.
Otherwise, lawmakers would have to wait until 2025 to get more salary, as state regulations prohibit them from increasing their own salaries before another two-year term begins.
Republicans expressed confusion that Democrats would show themselves the money after months of ignoring calls for the Legislature to call a special session to look at changing criminal justice reforms passed in recent years, including controversial limits on the Bail, who have been blamed for the increase in crime.
“At a time when New Yorkers can barely afford to make ends meet, with record inflation, and at a time when the Dems are refusing to address the crime crisis plaguing the streets, this would be it Height of arrogance and hubris to call us back to grow Legislative Salary,” Rep. Michael Lawler (R-Rockland), who won a seat in Congress this November, tweeted Friday amid ongoing tension over how Democrats might handle the payroll question.
Hochul claimed during the gubernatorial campaign against Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk) that, given their opposition to changing the state bail laws, it would not have been productive to recall Democratic lawmakers to Albany after their regular session ended in June.
“They bring back the special session when lawmakers are ready and get agreement on certain changes. Otherwise they gave in, they gave in. OK?. That’s the reality. I have to deal with realities here,” she said.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) both had no comment Friday.
A controversial commission authorized by the state Legislature increased their wages and in 2018 decided to raise salaries from $80,000 in early 2019 to $110,000 while restricting how lawmakers could earn income outside of their day job.
But legal challenges invalidated outside-income restrictions, while scuttling a second pay rise to $130,000 a year that would make state lawmakers the highest-paid in the nation.
Some lawmakers have argued that $110,000 a year isn’t enough money amid rising prices and the sky-high cost of living, particularly in New York City, especially given more lucrative opportunities in the public and private sectors.
“You get what you pay for,” a lawmaker told the Post Thursday of the impact of pay levels on the quality of lawmakers who oversee state budgets and major policy matters.
But some lawmakers said they don’t expect to be near Albany this holiday season, although a pay rise could be approved once the January regular session begins, which would take effect in early 2025.
“The announcer wouldn’t call us back just for a raise. Does not happen. But he might consider it with the Senate Majority Leader during the session, but definitely not a special session just for that,” said Rep. Inez Dickens (D-Harlem).
Heastie repeatedly used the phrase “at this moment” while signaling to reporters at the state Capitol in Albany on Thursday that the situation remains up in the air.
“I didn’t say anything at that moment about coming back for a raise,” he said, before adding, “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.”
https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/kathy-hochul-special-session-in-december-to-raise-legislative-pay-ok-by-me/ Special Session in December to Raise Legislative Salaries OK by me