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LEGALITY OF PAY LAG QUESTIONED BY VOLKER

Seven more state lawmakers from the Buffalo area say they will voluntarily defer a week's salary to help the state through its fiscal crisis.

But State Sen. Dale M. Volker declined to jump on the bandwagon, saying he isn't sure the deferment is legal.

State Sen. John B. Sheffer II, R-Williamsville, on Friday became the first Western New York lawmaker to announce that he will give back a week's pay under the same payroll deferment measure that has been imposed on all state workers.

A week's pay for a state lawmaker is $1,096, figured on a base annual salary of $57,500.

State employees will collect the deferred or lag salary when they retire or leave state service.

Assemblymen Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga; William B. Hoyt, D-Buffalo; Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Springville; Richard J. Keane, D-Buffalo, and Francis J. Pordum, D-Blasdell, and State Sen. William T. Stachowski, D-Buffalo, said Saturday they would volunteer to join the lag payroll.

Stephen T. Banko III, chief of staff to Sen. Anthony M. Masiello, who was out of state, said the Buffalo Democrat also would agree to defer a week's salary.

Other members of the Western New York delegation were not immediately available to comment.

Volker, a Republican from Depew, promised to do his part to cut state spending and help the state through its fiscal problems.

But he said he would "not be goaded into playing games by (Gov.) Mario Cuomo."

Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Stan Lundine previously had announced they would lag their pay.

Later, Cuomo called on state legislators to voluntarily do the same.

Volker cited the state Constitution, which he said prohibits lawmakers from changing their salaries during their term of office.

"We'll have the legal experts look into it, then abide by the law," Volker said.

He said the governor agreed to the lag in his own pay as a public relations gimmick, not to save money.

"We don't need gimmicks and symbols to cope with this budget crisis," Volker said. "We've got to go in and cut the budget in a logical, responsible way."

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