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STATE COMPTROLLER Edward V. Regan ought to win an award for incredibly poor timing with his awkward request for a $10,000 pay raise. It comes just as Albany faces a $1 billion budget gap and is considering politically painful measures to close it.

No wonder Gov. Cuomo refused the request, quickly and appropriately.

"There's no way you can ask to lay off thousands of people just before Christmas and ask others to surrender five days' pay. . .and then turn around" and support a raise for Regan, Cuomo said.

The wonder is not that Cuomo turned thumbs down on the idea so quickly, but that Regan asked for the salary increase in the first place.

His spokesman contends that, while the timing is awkward, the raise engages an "issue of fairness."

Regan hasn't had a raise since 1986. Since the salaries of elected officials cannot be increased during their terms of office, if the change isn't approved before Regan begins his fourth term in January he won't be able to win higher pay until 1995.

That's all true, but there's another entire set of compelling reasons on the other side of the issue, too. The $110,000 salary Regan now receives may not be a king's ransom, but even in Albany it's not peanuts, either. State taxpayers do not force their comptroller to subsist on spare chocolate and Care packages.

Nor was Regan forced to run for a fourth term. He knew the salary of the office and, had he felt grossly underpaid, could have either returned to private life or let everyone know his dissatisfaction with the pay and his plan to ask for a raise during his re-election campaign earlier this fall.

He did neither. One can only assume that, all things considered, he didn't find the conditions of his office, including the $110,000 annual salary, plus lucrative perks and fringe benefits, too bad.

No wonder. They aren't bad at all -- especially in a time of dire financial straits. This is one Regan request the Legislature should quickly file and forget.

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