Legal action being taken over controversial pay raises for state lawmakers

December 14, 2018 07:56 PM

A not-for-profit legal group, based in Albany, is taking New York State and its comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, to state Supreme Court. It's hoping to block the controversial lawmaker pay raises.

The lawsuit was filed by the Government Justice Center - a nonprofit keeping close tabs on "government waste and taxpayer abuse."

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The plaintiffs -- including a married father of two, are hoping for an immediate injunction to stop the pay raises. 

Lawmakers are also weighing in.

"If I don't stand up and do what I think is right, then who is going to do it? I want to do the right thing and the right thing is to force the legislature to abide by the rules of the game," said Rob Arrigo, a 38-year-old plaintiff.

Arrigo, of Saratoga, is one of the four plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Friday morning by the Government Justice Center, hoping to shut down what they're calling "unconstitutional" actions, challenging the lawmaker pay raises recommended by the Compensation Committee – made up of past and present state and city comptrollers.

"To place an injunction on the pay raises. I think the second priority of the lawsuit is to make sure that the pay raises don't get through the way that it's currently being proposed and then finally, I think if the legislators do the right thing from there, they can come to the people and explain to them why they think they deserve a pay raise," said Arrigo.

"Stop the illegal process, unconstitutional process that has taken place with this committee, declare it invalid and have it enjoined," echoed Cam MacDonald, the executive director of the Government Justice Center.

Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald of Cohoes believes the Legislature should vote on it.

"I'm happy with the way the salary is, but I'm very sensitive to my colleagues in the city who live in an area where the cost of living is almost double. So we'll have to wait and see what the next step's going to be," said McDonald.

On WCNY radio's "Capitol Pressroom," Governor Andrew Cuomo said the commission acted within its authority.

"The commission was highly credible. Former controllers and current controllers -- they came up with a raise and reforms," said the governor. "The commission actually worked out. I do believe the lawsuit will be moot."

"Can't afford to live here, so I want to be the representative of the people who pay the bills in the state of New York," said Arrigo.

Members also voted to cap at 15 percent how much lawmakers can earn from outside jobs.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to Comptroller DiNapoli. A spokeswoman declined comment on his behalf.


Jill Konopka

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