Ever since the New York State Compensation Committee recommended a raise for our state legislators that will increase their pay to $130,000 by 2021, I have been reading about a number of legislators complaining about the benefits they would have to give up in order to accept the new salary, especially the limit of outside income. Isn’t it ironic that the committee the legislators created to give themselves cover from raising their own salary is now being criticized by these same people as being unfair.
The elected legislature should be in session for the entire year rather than the current January through June session. Of course, holidays and some summer recess time would need to be worked out. I am sure that a $130,000 salary that includes the generous state benefit package and the usual per diems while in Albany, would be agreeable to most state taxpayers.
Legislators would no longer need to try to convince taxpayers that their legislative job is full time. Given that many members are currently drawing anywhere from $100,000 to $400,000 annually from outside income, their reasoning that they are full time is a stretch at best. Under the committee recommendations, outside income would be limited to 15 percent of their salary. Any legislator unhappy with that would have to decide which job they prefer to have.
Imagine how much work could be accomplished if the legislature was in session year round. Issues such as campaign finance and closing the LLC loophole, real ethics reform and early voting are only a few that our legislature could tackle because time will no longer be of the essence. Legislators may even be able to read in full the annual state budget bill before voting on it, unlike now where it is crammed thru in the waning minutes of the legislative session along with other important bills.
I, for one, would have no issue with the salary recommendations if the legislature were in session for the full year and I am sure many state taxpayers would concur. So, state senators and assemblymen, what say you.