State lawmakers eye their first pay raise since 1999
State lawmakers could be getting their first pay raise in 17 years.
It has been speculated that legislators could meet in special session as early as next week to vote on a possible pay hike. If they don't approve a raise by Dec. 31, they can't vote again on the issue for another two years.
Legislators currently earn a base pay of $79,500. Their last raise was in 1999.
Several proposals for a pay raise are being considered. One calls for an average 2 percent raise, retroactive to 1999. That would put the base pay around $110,000.
If lawmakers meet in a special session this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a laundry list of other items he wants them to take up. Some of the issues are very popular with ordinary voters, such as term limits.
Many lawmakers are accusing the governor of using their pay hike as leverage to get things he wants for himself.
"There can't be any quid pro quo on these issues," says political analyst Jerry Kremer. "That kind of dealing is what gives Albany a bad reputation. Each one of these issues have to stand on their own merit."
Kremer, a former longtime member of the Assembly, says Gov. Cuomo needs to be careful not to push legislators too far.
"The problem is, if this month goes by and there's no pay increase, he's going to be dealing with a very, very unhappy Legislature. And the chances of him getting some of his pet projects through are diminished," says Kremer.
Legislators aren't scheduled to meet again until the start of the 2017 session in January.