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NYS Exposed: Rocky start to lawmaker pay raises

July 06, 2018 09:56 AM

New York State lawmakers are the third highest paid in the country at just under $80,000 per year but they haven't seen a raise in nearly 20 years.

So after a commission designed to give them a pay raise fell apart two years ago, this year state lawmakers created a new one.

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However, News10NBC found out that it's off to a rocky start. 

"The last time they came up with a commission and it basically crashed and burned, because they couldn't come up with an agreement, they were basically just representing the interest of the governor and the legislative leaders," stated Blair Horner, New York Public Interest Research Group.

Back in 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo pointed to public sentiment. An overwhelming voice in opposition to a lawmaker pay raise.

Cuomo says, "those lawmakers that say, 'well the committee should act despite the overwhelming sentiment of the people of this state.' How absurd a proposition?"

But that didn't last. As part of this year's state budget, the governor and the state legislature set-up a brand new commission to once again look at bumping up salaries.

"It looked like part of a deal sweeter that the governor offered the legislature to get the budget done on time," stated Horner. 

However, it appears this group too might be unraveling before it gets started. The lawmakers' pick to lead the commission, New York's Chief Judge Janet Difiore announced she won't serve on the commission.

In a statement, her office says, "the chief judge cannot constitutionally serve on the panel" and pointed us directly to the state's constitution.

Horner adds, "you would have thought that this was something that people would have thought of in advance."

News10NBC reached out to the four remaining members on the commission.

They said they all plan to continue, but State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli's office admits "he was not consulted before being placed on the pay commission."

And as for a meeting? His office told News10NBC that it has been scheduled for July 18, a date they say has changed many times and there's no time or location yet. As for a new commission leader, nobody seems to know.

"If they want to get something done, they will," stated Horner. "I'm nervous about the fact that they may not have enough time to do it thoroughly and I'm skeptical as of now that they're going to do an adequate job of getting public input." 

The State Assembly's Majority Office told News10NBC Thursday that they believe the statutes are clear and don't stop the chief judge from serving on this commission. They say there's 'no concern' about the process if she doesn't.

Credits

Brett Davidsen

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

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