Friday, February 3, 2023

New York legislators will be the highest paid in America: Here’s the salary

NEW YORK — Just in time for Christmas, New York legislators returned to the state capital Thursday to give themselves a nice holiday gift: a pay raise that will make them the highest-paid state legislators in the country.

Members of the state Assembly and Senate would earn a base salary of $142,000 under a bill passed during a special session, a 29% increase from their $110,000 salary.

That would propel him past California state legislators, who are now the highest-paid legislators in the country with an annual base salary of about $119,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

However, New York lawmakers will also face restrictions for the first time on how much they can earn from other jobs. Starting in 2025, outside income will be capped at $35,000. Overpayments from military service, retirement plans or investments would still be allowed.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, said lawmakers work hard throughout the year and deserve a pay raise to cover the rising cost of living.

“It’s a full-time job,” he said. “Sooner or later, in order to work, we have to raise wages.”

Senate Republican leader Rob Ort said he found the increase “clearly offensive to the people we represent.”

“Albany’s unipartisan ruling class continues to prioritize its own misplaced priorities,” Ort said in a statement.

Gov. Cathy Hochul, a Democrat, has said she supports the idea of ​​an increase for the Legislature, but has not said whether she will sign the bill. Emails and text messages left for the governor’s office were not immediately returned.

Some government watchdogs and transparency groups said after the bill was introduced Monday night that it does not go far enough to regulate external revenue.

“The public really deserves to know that their elected officials are working only for them and have no other interests in mind,” said Rachel Foss, senior policy advisor for the government watchdog group Reinvent Albany.

For example, members of the US Congress are barred from earning outside income while in office in certain professions that could create a conflict of interest, such as being a lawyer.

Outside income has raised ethical and legal issues for some of New York’s top lawmakers. Former Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silvers died in prison after being convicted of participating in a devious arrangement in which he paid referral fees to some real estate developers to send business to a law firm and then supported legislation that protected the developers. used to benefit

Nevertheless, many states have a tradition of making law a part-time job rather than a profession, and have adopted the idea that a legislature should be made up of regular people with regular jobs outside government.

“When I campaigned, I heard over and over again from voters that we don’t want career politicians. That’s what it’s going to create,” said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, a Republican representing a district north of Albany.

Assembly member Patricia Fahey, a Democrat, said the increase would help the legislature retain quality members who could earn more in the private sector.

“We’ve had some unhealthy upheaval and turnover, especially from downstate members,” he said.

New York lawmakers got their last salary in 2018. At the time, it was their first increase in 20 years.

This pay increase was made possible by a list of recommendations made by a state compensation committee, but a limit on outside earnings was never imposed.

“New York has a history of looking at pay raises for legislators, but this is the first time they’ve taken matters into their own hands,” Foss said.

Nation World News Desk
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