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Cuomo to probe 'shocking' State Police officials' pay hike

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday that he will review a big bump in pay that more than two dozen top State Police officials received a few weeks before he took office.

"I was surprised and I was shocked, as were most New Yorkers," Cuomo said of his reaction upon hearing of the pay raises, which amounted to at least $20,000 each for the officials who already were making more than $150,000.

The raises came in early December, according to the WNYT television station in Albany, which first reported the pay bumps Tuesday.

Cuomo called the raises "problematic" and "insensitive," given the state's fiscal crisis. Coming into office, Cuomo has called on 200,000 or so state workers to take a pay freeze in the coming year after their contracts expire March 31.

The governor said he did not know if he could reverse the raises.

The Albany television station said the raises for 28 officials ranged from $20,000 to $28,000, and came after a raise kicked in for a unionized worker that would have bumped his pay higher than his supervisor.

Joseph D'Amico, whom Cuomo nominated to run the State Police, has been serving temporarily as a deputy superintendent in one of the slots that got a raise -- nearly a month before he joined the agency -- to $182,756, from $154,679.

As of this week, though, D'Amico began taking a salary of $136,000, which is the statutory level that he will make when, as expected, he is confirmed for the job by the State Senate in the coming weeks.

Cuomo said he understands it is a common problem in agencies where, for instance, commissioner-level jobs have their salaries set by statute, which often results in deputies making more money than their bosses.

But the timing was all wrong, he said.

"Within this context, I think it's shocking," Cuomo said of the raises, at a time when 900 state worker jobs were eliminated in December by former Gov. David A. Paterson and the new governor is looking to downsize the state work force.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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