State lawmakers will vote Thursday on whether to raise their pay to $142,000 per year
UPDATE: Lawmakers are heading back to Albany on Thursday for a special session to vote on whether to give themselves a pay raise. If approved, New York State senators and assemblymembers will become the highest-paid state lawmakers in the country.
ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State lawmakers are considering a proposal to raise their own pay by 29%. Democrats introduced legislation late Monday that would raise lawmaker pay from $110,000 per year to $142,000 per year starting on January 1st.
If the proposal passes, members of the NYS Senate and Assembly would be the highest paid state lawmakers in the country.
News10NBC reached out to a number of Rochester-area state lawmakers on Tuesday. Republican Assemblyman Josh Jensen was the only one who agreed to an on-camera interview. “I talk to constituents every day,” he says, “not one time in two years have I had a single constituent come to me and say, “you know what Josh? You deserve to make more money”– they’ve told me a lot of different things, but not one time have I been told I deserve a raise and I respect that.”
If called back for a special session to vote on the bill, Jensen says he will vote no, “I don’t believe that New York state lawmakers have earned it either, there’s a lot of unanswered questions about what are we doing to make our neighborhood safer? What are we doing to solve the health care crisis? What are we doing to make our state more affordable? Until we’re actually able to do the work of the people there shouldn’t be a vote on whether or not we deserve more money,” he tells News10NBC.
The bill would also limit, come 2025, the amount of outside income lawmakers can make to $35,000.
A number of good government groups say the outside income requirements aren’t good enough. Reinvent Albany has been pushing for a 15% cap on outside income, in line with congressional limits.
The bill also does not prohibit outside income from entities where the legislator would have a fiduciary responsibility to a client. “Someone who has a fiduciary duty to a client, that means they are probably going to have more conflicts also being a fiduciary to the public. So, it’s hard to be both representing your constituents and representing clients at the same time,” explains Rachael Fauss, a Policy Advisor for Reinvent Albany.
Fauss is urging lawmakers to slow down and handle any potential pay increases during regular legislative process next year, “it’s certainly better for this to happen when more people are able to look and comment and provide feedback to the legislature before they take any votes,” she tells News10NBC.
At $142,000 per year, New York State lawmakers would be the highest paid in the country, overtaking California, which pays its state lawmakers just about $120,000/year. Governor Kathy Hochul has indicated in recent weeks that she would support a pay increase for lawmakers.