Albany taxpayers react to state lawmaker raises

December 07, 2018 02:04 PM

ALBANY - We may soon see a pay raise for state lawmakers. If approved, it would be the first in 20 years and would make New York State lawmakers the highest paid in the nation.

NewsChannel 13 reported on Thursday that the New York State Compensation Committee approved raising pay for a number of state officials. Here's how the numbers break down:

  • Legislature:
    • From $79,500 to $130,000
  • Governor:
    • From $178,000 to $250,000
  • Lieutenant Governor:
    • From $151,000 to $225,000
  • Comptroller:
    • From $151,000 to $220,000

If approved, the Legislature's pay will increase to $110,000 in the New Year. It will climb $10,000 every year until reaching $130,000 in 2021.

The legislation would put a 15-percent cap on outside income for lawmakers who do not have fiduciary relationships with clients.

Assemblyman John McDonald is a pharmacist and owns Marra's Pharmacy in Cohoes. He told NewsChannel 13 on Thursday that he planned to find a way around the income cap.

"I'm not going to sell my business, I'm not going to quit my job and I'm not going to leave here, I'll figure it out one way or the other," McDonald said.

Lawmakers who have fiduciary relationships (i.e. lawyers, accountants, real estate agents) cannot receive any outside income under the legislation. McDonald called that unfair.

"We don't discriminate on a lot of things in the state and we shouldn't be discriminating on any profession," McDonald said.

Blair Horner, Executive Director of government watchdog group New York Public Interest Research Group told NewsChannel 13 on Thursday that lawmakers could create an LLCs without listing their name, or they could list their spouse or children on the payroll.

Taxpayers in downtown Albany on Friday said they think that's unfair. They said they believe someone should be monitoring that.

"If you choose to take that kind of position, you should be under some scrutiny," Felicia Thomas said. "So you shouldn't be able to make $250,000 that the taxpayers are responsible for like half of that."

"You've got working families out there who basically have to work two jobs," James Hasselwander said. "Granted some of these lawmakers work two jobs as well but they don't need to. They are doing that basically because they're grabbing the golden ring because they can."

Forming a regulatory body could end up costing taxpayers even more.

"There's always so many hands in the pot, which can make it a little sticky too, because then you might have to pay another group of people to watch this group of people," Thomas said.

"Basically you're giving away more to get less, it should be the other way around," Hasselwander said.

The New York State Compensation Committee is set to vote on the bill on Monday, December 10.

Stay with NewsChannel 13 both on-air and online for the latest on this developing story.


Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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