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NYSNYS NEWS: Pay raise for legislators endorsed.
NYSNYS News
NYSNYS NEWS: Pay raise for legislators endorsed.

By Kyle Hughes
NYSNYS News


ALBANY, N.Y. (November 17) Senate leader Dean Skelos endorsed a proposal to hike the pay of state legislators Monday, saying officials and state commissioners are due for a raise after going without one for 14 years.

"The pay raise was mentioned by me, not that there are any discussions going on with (Gov. Andrew Cuomo)," Skelos (R-Nassau County) told reporters after a closed door GOP caucus, the first since Republican won back the Senate majority on election day.

"I've said I've been in favor of the (legislative) pay raise on numerous occasions," Skelos said. "It's been 14 years and next time it would be 16 years There will be a discussion, I'm sure about it."

He said there has been no discussion about raising the pay the of the governor and other statewide officials, "but I know there is a problem with commissioners. I think the most they can earn is $125,000 and I believe the governor has indicated at times that that makes it a bit of a challenge to attract really highly qualified people into those executive branch positions."

Legislators are barred from raising their pay during the same term, which means they must pass a bill by December 31 in order for the raise to kick in on January 1, where they are sworn in for new terms. A pay raise has the support of Assembly Democrats and Cuomo has not ruled one out.

But Skelos said the Senate would not make a pay raise deal that including passing bills to raise the minimum wage, enact a Dream Act to give college tuition aid to illegal immigrants, or create public campaign financing.

He also said would not support creation of regional minimum wages or automatic indexing of future raises, two items sought by some Democrats.

But he said if there is a special session before the end of the year, he would like to see a deal on spending some of the $4 billion budget surplus on roads and other infrastructure needs. "Our local communities could use funding for highways, for bridges," Skelos said. "I think that's where our focus will be."

The last pay raise bill for legislators and other state officials passed in 1999 and one of the concessions Gov. George Pataki won from the Legislature in exchange for approving the raise was the creation of public charter schools. A new push is on to lift the charter school cap and allow more to open, so that issue could once again be part of a pay raise deal.

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