By Mary Calamia
Have YOU ever gotten a 47 percent raise?
Not likely, but New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature are currently being considered for salary bumps as high as 47 percent.
In a year already rocked by multiple corruption scandals and the “dark of night” passage of a most controversial and hotly contested budget, the power brokers of New York State are now engaged in another slick move that will saddle the taxpayers with yet another burden.
Ask any New York taxpayer, “Does Governor Cuomo deserve an $84,000-a-year raise?” You will probably hear a few classic four-letter words, none of which will be “Sure!”
Yet the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation, an “independent” panel that determines legislative salaries will be meeting this September to discuss salary increases for elected officials. Under consideration is upping Cuomo’s base pay from $179,000 to $263,000.
What is most interesting is that this brand new, “independent” body is appointed by the very people whose salaries they determine:
“Every four years, beginning June 2015, the Commission is established with seven appointed members – three are designated by the Governor, one by the President Pro Tempore of the New York State Senate, one by the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and two by the Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, one of whom serves as chair of the Commission.” (NYS Commission on Compensation)
Conveniently, the Commission has until a week after Election Day to present its recommendations.
Under the proposed salary schedule, the base salary for a legislator (a part-time position) would jump from $79,500 to $116,900. Senators and Assembly members are also paid thousands more for participating on and/or chairing committees.
It is inconceivable that anyone could think a salary increase is appropriate at this point in time — NOT for a legislature that passes bills without even reading them — NOT in a state that is still uncovering layer upon layer of corruption in government — NOT for legislators who have denied the constituents’ pleas for meaningful ethics reform in the wake of the most shameful and embarrassing period in New York State history.
Panel member Roman Hedges, who was appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, proposed these exorbitant salaries, saying, “I’d like the legislators to be well enough rewarded that they’ll stick around.” (Record Online)
Newsflash, Mr. Hedges: Albany has legislators who have been serving for decades – some starting as far back as the 1970’s. They’re not going anywhere. Given their performance, however, it might be better for all of us if they did.
So take heed, New Yorkers. Even in the quiet months when the Legislature is out of session, Albany has its hands deep inside your pockets.
(Note: The author has created a petition on the petition site demanding that this proposed salary increase be taken off the table. You can sign the petition at The Petition Site