Share this article

print logo


State Comptroller Edward V. Regan wants a $10,000 raise for himself and other statewide officials before next year, a request his spokesman acknowledges has "bad timing" given the impending layoff of 2,000 state employees.

In a letter to Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders, Regan said he would ask for a $10,000 increase -- slightly more than 9 percent -- in his $110,000 annual salary, effective Jan. 1.

The Republican comptroller said he would submit a resolution to the State Legislature that also could boost the salaries of Lt. Gov. Stan Lundine and Attorney General Robert Abrams, both Democrats, who also are paid $110,000 each.

Regan's resolution is expected to seek the increase for himself and Abrams but only suggest that Cuomo and Lundine seek a similar one.

The Democratic governor's annual salary is $130,000, but he does not accept the $20,000 that was added to the salary in 1986 and would not be expected to act differently in this instance.

The Legislature and Cuomo must approve Regan's request for the $120,000 salary before Jan. 1, the start of Regan's fourth four-year term.

State law does not permit a pay raise once a new term begins.

This means that the Legislature will consider raises for state officials while being asked to approve a mandatory week-long unpaid furlough for most state employees, as well as budget cuts that would reduce the state work force by 2,000 employees this year.

Those proposals are part of a $1 billion cost-cutting plan submitted last month by Cuomo to avoid a budget deficit. "It's a lousy context," said Marvin Nailor, Regan's chief spokesman.

"But the fact is, if this pay raise is not approved, Ned will have gone without a pay raise for eight years."

Regan's salary, which was increased by 10 percent -- from $100,000 to $110,000 -- in 1986, would remain the same until 1995 if an increase is not approved this year.

Regan justifies the increase based on several factors:

He is the sole trustee of the state's $47 billion pension fund.

He directs 2,500 employees and a $65 billion budget

A legislative commission in 1988 said Regan would be earning $474,000 a year if he had a similar job in the private sector. The commission recommended that Regan's salary be boosted to $144,000.

"No employee, no matter what they earned, would expect to go without a pay raise for eight years," Nailor said, adding that Regan is well aware that "this is not a good time to do a pay raise."

"The unions have started to negotiate a new contract for themselves," Nailor said. "Would any union agree not to have a pay raise for eight years?"

Without the proposed increase for Regan, said Nailor, inflation will have caused a one-third reduction in the comptroller's pay by 1995.

"It's an issue of fairness and equity," said Nailor, who offered these figures from Regan on state employees:

249 of them earn more than $110,000 annually.

349 of them earn $100,000 to $110,000.

More than 2,700 of them earn $90,000 to $100,000.

Aides to Cuomo could not be reached Friday night for comment. It also could not be determined whether Abrams approved of his name having been included in Regan's request. In 1986, when both of their salaries were increased from $100,00 to $110,000, Regan requested a pay raise for both himself and Abrams.

There were some signs Friday that legislators were moving closer to reaching compromises on the governor's proposals for cutting this year's budget.

Top staff negotiators for the Legislature were meeting Friday night, and legislators are scheduled to return here Monday. Whether budget bills will be ready by then is far from certain, legislative aides said.

The Assembly is expected to meet in a brief but official session Monday. Like the senators, the members of the Assembly will discuss the budget proposals in party caucuses, which are private.

While agreements have not been made on many of the governor's proposed cuts, the major disagreement involves payments to hospitals.

Cuomo has modified his original proposal to block a $425 million increase in aid to hospitals, which was passed earlier this year. He now says he will permit that increase if the Legislature adopts a new 1 percent tax on the revenues of hospitals and nursing homes.

Erie County Medical Center and others that serve large numbers of Medicaid patients would incur less of a financial impact from the governor's new proposal. But the proposal would mean that hospitals with relatively small numbers of Medicaid patients, such as Mercy in South Buffalo, would incur a greater financial impact.

The proposal has split the state association of hospitals, as well as the Legislature. But negotiators are moving toward a compromise in which a smaller tax would be charged, sources said.

The Republican-controlled Senate, meanwhile, is balking at Cuomo's proposal to eliminate the salaries paid to the directors of 56 commissions and boards. Many of those directors are political appointees and friends of state legislators and the governor.

Those political ties are expected to prevent the Senate from approving the salary cuts, which Cuomo said would save $2.9 million.

Republicans also object to Cuomo's failure to call for eliminating the Cable Television Commission, which is headed by a friend of his, William Finneran.

The governor's press secretary, Anne Crowley, said that Cuomo proposed the merger or elimination of the Cable Commission and other agencies last year but that those proposals were blocked by the Legislature.

Momentum continues to build, meanwhile, for a tuition increase for the State University of New York. To counteract that move, nearly 70 SUNY students staged a loud demonstration Friday outside Cuomo's office and the Senate chamber. The students were not permitted to see the governor or Senate Majority Leader Ralph J. Marino, R-Muttontown.

Student leaders recently softened their opposition to a tuition increase. They insist, however, that the state should drop recently enacted fees and Cuomo's proposal to cut Tuition Assistance Program awards by $100.

There are no comments - be the first to comment