State lawmakers in New York decided to give themselves a gift from the taxpayers of their state: on Thursday, the eve of the Christmas recess, they voted themselves a 29% pay raise.
The vote barely passed, but now lawmakers will be paid $142,000 per year instead of their previous salary of $110,000.
The $32,000 annual raise makes New York lawmakers the highest paid in the country, surpassing California where lawmakers are paid $120,000.
While their constituents struggle to cope with inflation that has been between eight and 10% for the past year to 18 months, these lawmakers have increased those constituents’ tax burden significantly to enrich themselves. Must be nice.
They “work hard”
Democrats who voted in the increase justified their actions by saying that they “work hard” and need the higher salaries to attract “the best and brightest” to the job.
“As I’ve always said, I think legislators work very hard, even some of the Republicans,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said. “Again, there’s no compensation you can give for people to be away from their families. I think legislators work hard.”
As usual, Democrats refuse to look at practical concerns, including what happens when they can’t balance their budgets because they’re paying their members more than any other state.
Governor Kathy Hochul (D) is expected to sign the measure, having indicated support for legislative pay increases previously.
Increases blocked by courts
In addition to their salaries, lawmakers also get $183 per day in per diem funds for each day they spend in Albany. About a dozen of the 213 lawmakers also get a stipend for leadership positions.
Their current $110,000 salary was set in 2019, and planned increases in 2020 and 2021 were blocked by state courts because they were linked to a limit on outside income.
Starting in 2025, lawmakers will be limited to $35,000 in outside income per year.
Republican criticism over raises
The lawmakers were criticized for waiting until after the election to vote on the pay increases.
“This issue wasn’t on the ballot [last month],” said Assemblymember Mark Walczyk, a Republican from Watertown. “It didn’t come up before then, so you couldn’t be judged on it.”
“Voting yourself a $32,000 pay raise is not caring for your constituents,” said outgoing Sen. Mike Martucci, who noted that the median salary in the state is $75,000. “It’s downright disrespectful.”