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NYS Exposed: After 20 years, should NYS lawmakers get a pay raise?

November 29, 2018 06:58 PM

Think about this. When was the last time you got a raise? 

For New York state lawmakers, members of the Assembly and Senate, it's been 20 years. Over that time, 30 lawmakers have been fined or jailed for misconduct. 

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So, have they earned more money? And if so, how much? 

News10NBC went to Albany to ask the men in charge of making that decision. 

The commissioners are:

SUNY Board Chair H. Carl McCall.

News10NBC Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Right now, do you think they should get a pay raise?"

H. Carl MCall, commissioner: "Yes I do, but I think the interesting thing is, at what level?"

New York State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli. 

Brean: "Where do you stand on a pay raise?"

Tom Dinapoli, commissioner: "Given 20 years, it's not unreasonable to say there should be a pay raise."

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. 

Scott Stringer, commissioner: "There's a lot of emotion attached to this. We're just going to try to do the right thing."

Here are the numbers. 

The base pay of a state lawmaker is $79,500. That is the third highest in the country. 

The governor's salary is $179,000. That is also the third highest in the country. 

News10NBC covered the last pay raise commission in 2017. We even gave the commission a petition started by News10NBC.

Sixty percent of the people who took it said, "no raise." That pay raise commission ended without making an official recommendation. 

This commission was started by a law attached to the latest budget and the commission's decision is final. 

If it increases a lawmaker's pay based on inflation since 1999, it would jump the base pay to more than $120,000. 

Remember, the lawmakers are in session for only six months of the year. 

Brean: "So, one of your conclusions could be zero?"

MCall: "Could be."

Brean: "Or could be something went with inflation, which would be roughly $116,000."

MCall: "The way we calculated is, it would be about $121,000 if we went with inflation, yes."

The commission met inside the SUNY building in Albany.

It has one more meeting to go in New York City on Friday and then the commissioners have to make a decision by Dec.10. 

Remember, the commission was created when the budget passed in April. Wednesday was its first public hearing. 

Brean: "The last commission took about a year to figure this out. How are you going to make a decision in a couple of weeks?"

Stringer: "You know this issue has been kicking around for 20 years. I'd like to think that this commission has a real opportunity just throw away the last 20 years and start fresh."

Brean: "You have to make a decision by December..."

Dinapoli: "Tenth."

Brean: "How do you do that?"

Dinapoli: "Oh I think there's been a lot of information out there already, certainly from the previous commission... I think it's eminently doable to make a decision by Dec.10."

So, how do you give a raise to a government that is listed as one of the most corrupt in the country?

You attach new rules to the money.

The law says the commission can do it, and we're putting together some concrete examples for a new story coming up on News10NBC at 11 p.m. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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