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NYS Exposed: Concerns over state Senate stipend payments

March 27, 2018 11:26 PM

State lawmakers have a base salary of just under $80,000, and they're also allowed to collect extra money for leadership roles.

There are concerns, however that those payments might lead some lawmakers to not get paid.

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State Senator Patrick Gallivan is a Republican who represents part of Monroe and Livingston County. He is one of seven New York State Senators who's pay was flagged last year by the State Comptroller's Office. 

"I'm not aware of what exactly was submitted or not," he says.

"This has been a practice for at least several years." 

Here's the concern:

Senator Gallivan is the chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee.

That job comes with a $12,500 stipend.

He's also vice-chair of the education committee. That committee's chairman is also the Majority Whip, and took the larger stipend for that role, so Senate leaders gave Senator Gallivan the Education chair stipend of $18,000.

"I have been assured that the payments are in accordance with the law, and if they're not then the payments should be returned, simple as that," says Gallivan.

The Senate Majority Leadership maintains it's within their right to make these payments.

"The legal opinion that was issued says that it's constitutional and lawful," says state Senator Catharine Young.

But now, a year after the payments were originally flagged, the New York State Comptroller is threatening to stop those payments. 

In a statement to News10NBC, the Comptroller's Office says that unless the Senate adjusts those seven discrepancies, they will "Only make a partial payment and will withhold the remainder 75% of the stipend payment for those members in question." 

"We think the Senate Majority leader should end the practice of giving these stipends to other members," says Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The Senate Majority Office did not respond to News10NBC's calls about the Comptroller's ultimatum... but Senator Gallivan did, saying he's confident that the Senate will resolve any questions in accordance with the law.

As of now, though, the Comptroller's Office says the Senate hasn't responded to their request for clarification.

"From our view, from a tax-payer perspective," says Horner, "the money should be going to the person that is doing the work. In the case of a committee, it's the committee chair that does the work to run the committee. They're the ones that should be eligible for the stipend and not anyone else." 

Horner and the New York Public Interest Research Group is one of many good government advocates that have called for the end of this practice. With just one week until the payments are due, News10NBC will continue to monitor this situation to see if the payments in question are made. 

 

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