Dyker Heights

Albany pay hikes costs taxpayers, Conservative leader says

December 10, 2018 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York State Conservative Party Chairperson Mile Long (left), pictured with former Brooklyn Conservative Party head Jerry Kassar at a Bay Ridge event, says the pay raise for legislators is unfair to taxpayers. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

It’s not that Mike Long doesn’t want members of the New York State Legislature to get a pay raise. It’s just that Long, the Bay Ridge resident who chairs the New York State Conservative Party, thinks the salary increase is going to be hard on taxpayers.

The pay hike is hard to swallow because it’s coming all at once, Long said. “It’s clear they should have possibly had small pay raises over the years. A 63 percent pay raise is out of order,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Long spoke out after the New York State Compensation Committee, a panel composed of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, former state comptroller H. Carl McCall and former city comptroller William Thompson, voted to give the governor and legislators a hefty raise.

Legislators, who currently make $79,500 a year, will be bumped up to $110,000 in 2019. Their salaries will increase by $10,000 a year until 2021, when they will start making $130,000 a year.

Under a state law designed to keep politics out of the decisions over pay raises for lawmakers, the committee’s decision is binding.

The governor’s salary will be bumped up from $179,000 to $250,000 by the compensation committee.

“It’s a serious rip-off of the taxpayers of New York state,” said Long, adding that it’s the taxpayers who pay the salaries of lawmakers.

But McCall defended the move in an interview with Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle.

McCall, who is currently chairperson of the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY), told the upstate newspaper that New York’s elected officials were not as well compensated as their counterparts in other states.

“We looked at comparables and New York did not compare well to other jurisdictions and there haven’t been raises in 20 years,” the Democrat and Chronicle quoted McCall as saying.

The pay hike isn’t the only thing that Long found objectionable.

The compensation committee also voted to limit outside income for state legislators, a decision that Long said could have serious ramifications.

“I do believe that they are part-time legislators,” said Long, who noted that the state Legislature is in session only from January to June. “It’s a mistake to lock them out of outside income. We need citizen legislators, not full time legislators. We need people who know what it’s like to own a business or work outside of politics.”

By restricting the ways a lawmaker can earn money, “it will strengthen the lobbyists,” Long predicted.

A better way to counter potential corruption would be to install term limits on state lawmakers, Long said.