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Snap Poll: Majority opposes pay raise

Only 37 percent support committee’s recommendations for NY lawmakers

A committee created earlier this year to issue a report on increasing pay for New York lawmakers released its final recommendations Monday.

The committee recommended significantly increasing the salaries for legislators and other state lawmakers while also drastically limiting stipends for leadership positions and outside income allowances.

The proposal would increase legislators’ income from the current $79,500 to $110,000 on Jan. 1, 2019. Their salaries would increase again to $120,000 on Jan. 1, 2020 and finally to $130,000 on Jan. 1, 2021.

Statewide officials would see similar staggered increases. The governor’s salary would increase to $200,000 in 2019, $225,000 in 2020 and $250,000 in 2021. Salaries for the lieutenant governor, attorney general and state comptroller would increase to $190,000 in 2019, $210,000 in 2020 and $220,000 in 2021.

Meanwhile, legislators would be severely restricted in earning outside income. Starting in 2020, there would be a cap on income earned outside of the Legislature of 15 percent of the legislative base salary.

Also, both chambers would see the number of stipends they can award for leadership positions slashed. The report said that New York currently pays out 160 special stipends ranging from $9,000 to $41,500. Under the committee’s recommendations, fewer than 20 special stipends would be available.

The committee also recommends that in order for the increases planned for 2020 and 2021 to take place, the state must pass the budget on time by April 1 the prior year.

This week’s Snap Poll asked readers about the committee’s recommendations. The committee’s full report can be read at nyscompensation.ny.gov/docs/CompensationCommitteeReport.pdf.

More than 350 respondents participated in this week’s poll, conducted Dec. 11-12.

What do you think of the committee’s pay recommendations for state lawmakers?

Strongly support — 9%

Support — 28%

Oppose — 16%

Strongly oppose — 48%

COMMENTS:

What is wrong with this state? We have the most corrupt and dysfunctional legislature in the country. We enjoy the highest tax burden, cumbersome regulations, and a bureaucracy that is weightier than Jabba the Hut. I am perplexed that the pay committee feels that this exorbitant pay increase is the panacea to all that ails the great oppressive state of New York. Why do we not have the opportunity to vote on this recommendation as a citizenry? What about eliminating paid health care and retirement benefits and let our elected officials pay for these out of their own newfound pay increase. I have yet to see the pay committee report despite numerous calls to both the media and legislative offices. When this pay raise fails to solve the issues and problems that permeate this state, who will be held accountable for this misguided recommendation? Once again, we the people will be the last ones standing without a chair when the music stops.

—Jim Gaden

This is common sense. Pay fairly for a 24/7/365 stressful, demanding, thankless job that is heavy on responsibility. Limiting outside income is key. These people need to spend all of their time studying/researching issues, holding committee meetings, hearing the real story from constituents about the things that make their lives miserable living in this state: opioids; sub-standard schools; no living wages; incarceration rates for minorities; people with disabilities and their care takers; elder abuse/poverty; the environment/climate change. The list goes on and on, while rich, white New Yorkers pay little or no taxes and complain bitterly about these public servants getting a raise.

—Eve Elzenga, Eve Elzenga Design

What, are they nuts? Apparently they’re already beta testing the proposed legalization of marijuana.

—Michael Higgins

I support the increase, but with some skepticism. The restrictions must truly be monitored and enforced annually!

—Hal Gaffin

Limiting outside income merely insures that New York will have only publicly paid politicians and not real people as legislators. Furthermore they are already overpaid in proportion to other states. And New York is in a sharp state of decline already.

—Jim Weisbeck

This sounds good on paper, but I think they will find a way to get around the outside income and leadership stipend caps.

—Karen Zilora, Creative Scanning Solutions, Inc.

Should be based on pay for performance.

—Ed Rosen

While I am not satisfied with the job our representatives are doing, we need to pay them appropriately. Each of these individuals could make significantly more than even the raise gets them to. Restricting outside income is necessary since this seems to be a vehicle for corruption.

—Sig VanDamme

Elected officials’ wage increases should be indexed exactly how they index COLA for all Americans. There should not be additional stipends paid for committee work. They ran to serve to make for a better country and for future generations. Benefits should reflect the same as all other Americans also. No pensions, 401Ks. No lifetime health benefits. This will place elected officials closer to how their legislation affects their constituents. Elected officials should eat their own cooking.

—David Rusin, Vakxel Corporation

It’s been 20 years since state legislators have seen an increase. If you compare their salary to a comparable position in the private sector it is currently far below what their counterparts now earn. That said, the rate of increase is a bit high and should be enacted more gradually.

—Joanne Greene-Blose

The more we get corporate money and PAC money out of politics the better. We should work on getting Citizens United reversed via a constitutional amendment to reduce the influence of corporations on politics. Enforcing a budget resolution for on time completion is also a positive thing. If anything these restrictions don’t go far enough—and won’t until we change the political landscape around PAC influence.

—Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed, Inc.

Let’s treat their increases like most New York workers. 3.7% ($3,000) next year. And a series of $3,000 raises for the next 10 years. Gov. and Lt. Gov. can do well with $5,000 raises for the next five years. I agree with the 15% cap on outside earnings and reduction of special stipends. Small, incremental raises, since most New Yorkers below executives are lucky to get anything.

—Carlos Mercado

The reduction in leadership and stipends is long overdue. Next should come term limits and ranked voting.

—Wayne Donner

This is atrocious! If the politicians cannot afford to work for the pay they agreed to, they should go find a real job! I recommend calling a special election and vote out every politician who signed on to this outrageous decision!

—J.A. DePaolis, Consultative Services

Corruption is corruption. Unless serious measures are put in place to punish illicit or unethical behavior, salary increases will not create anything other than a larger hole in the state’s finances. Legislators will find other means to receive “outside income.”

—George Traikos, Traikos Group

I am not opposed to raises, although these seem excessive. But to delay the cap on outside income until a year after the raised kick in seems a little sketchy. Also, 15% outside cash is too high.

—Joseph Fabetes

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