Should NY lawmakers give themselves a pay raise?
Tue, 24 Jan 2012 18:33:48 GMT —
It's a fact. New York State lawmakers haven't had a pay raise in the last 13 years, not since 1999.
If they don't vote themselves a pay raise this year, they'd have to wait at least another three years before they could see a salary adjustment.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he thinks lawmakers deserve more money.
According to US Census data, the real median household income was $49,445 in 2010.
The base salary for New York State legislators is $79,500, but with extra pay such as for chairmanships, they average just over $90,000.
That's the way it's been since 1999.
Speaker Silver said, â??Well, obviously it's never a good time to make the case and I'm not making the case. I am saying that members work hard, many of them are full time legislators."
While there hasnâ??t been a pay raise in 13 years, Assembly Majority Leader, Ron Canestrari (D), does not think that they are underpaid. He said, â??I enjoy what I'm doing but for some people not in the same situation I'm in, it can be a hardship.â??
Majority Leader Canestrari earns well above the average, but, the cost of living for his colleagues from downstate is considerably higher.
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has served 30 years in the legislature, has never voted for a pay raise, and says he never will.
Majority Leader Canestrari says, "My constituents don't want me to vote for a pay raise and you have to represent and reflect your constituents' needs and concerns and wants."
Speaker Silver insists there haven't been any discussions this year about salary adjustments, either by legislative leaders or with the governor. He says even before those discussions can begin, the legislators need to raise their game.
To do that, Speaker Silver says there needs to be a repeat of last year's on-time budget, there needs to be a substantive agenda pushed through, and they need to lose the perception and the reputation as being one of the most dysfunctional legislatures in the nation.
Speaker Silver said, â??I think they've certainly done things in the last year and perhaps this year that will let the public know that that has changed."
Tedisco said, "If the legislature wants a pay raise, just like they go before the voters to be reelected, a pay raise should be out on the ballot."
Canestrari says itâ??s an uncomfortable issue to talk about. He says, â??Nobody likes to talk about how much they make or they don't make or how much they'd like more."
What has been discussed by some lawmakers is the possibility of appointing a pay-raise commission to report back with a recommendation before the end of the year.
Speaker Silver said he would support that idea if the senate and the governor went along.
Do you think New York legislators should have a pay raise? Do you think that the issue belongs on a ballot for the public to vote on?
(Information from NBC News was used in this report.)