Spin Cycle

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Several state Assembly members who were beckoned to Albany for two days of special sessions said today that New York's lack of a budget is starting to hit them in the wallet.

That's because they haven't been paid since April 1. State law says lawmakers cannot receive paychecks for their $79,500 annual salaries when the budget is late.

"I'm putting this hotel room on my credit card," said Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue).

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Murray, who also earns money as a business owner, said the lack of a state paycheck is “really starting to wear on all of us.”

While walking into the executive chamber, Senate Democratic chief John Sampson of Brooklyn described Thursday’s session as “worth it,” as he spent the day meeting with members of his conference about proposals.

But Assemb. Ginny Fields (D-Bayport), who is a full-time legislator, wasn't so positive.

She said she took out a loan to help cope with lost salary. She declined to say how much the loan is for, but said “it’s up there.”

The bite hasn't been so bad for Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), a lawyer who has a child in college, because he planned ahead. Thiele said he “made plans to deal with a budget stalemate” that would impact his income.

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Assemb. Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) described the lack of pay as “not a pleasant thing” but added that lawmakers need to craft the right budget - not just the budget that gets the paychecks rolling again.

“You can’t allow that to be a determining factor in the decisions we make,” he said.
Assembly members from outside Long Island were no less irked.

“If I’m going to sit here doing nothing, I’d rather be doing something that I like,” said Assemb. Carmen Arroyo (D-Bronx), who sat knitting before Thursday's session. She said it’s a “very difficult time” to be missing paychecks.