ALBANY — State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday downplayed the chance of a special session and Cuomo’s proposal for term limits in exchange for a pay raise for legislators, but closed-door negotiations continue on what could be transformative changes for Albany.
“Term limits is not something the conference supports,” Heastie said after a private planning meeting with the Assembly’s Democratic majority. But the Bronx Democrat neither took the landmark proposal off the negotiating table nor did he topple the table.
“If they want to come back to do the peoples’ business,” he said of the legislature and governor, “that’s what we’ll do.”
Heastie kept alive the legislative pay raise proposal that gives Cuomo leverage in talks for a special session. State law prohibits the legislature from raising its own salaries. But legislators — most of whom were re-elected in November — could enact a raise by Dec. 31 and have it be effective Jan. 1 when the new two-year legislative session begins.
“People should be paid what they deserve,” Heastie said of his chamber, which has pushed hard for what would be their first raises since 1999.
“I’m not sure if there is going to be a special session. The pay raise, to me, is always a separate issue.” He insisted “We’re not trading. . . . It’s not a trade,” although he is open to discussing Cuomo’s proposals.
Cuomo has used the carrot of pay raises to try to get the legislature to enact term limits, limitlawmakers’s outside income and lower campaign contribution limits.
The governor called for only a “modest” pay increase, unless the legislature adopts his ethics reforms and other measures, including the release of funds for a hate crimes task force and allocation of $2 billion in housing funds for the homeless before winter hits hardest.
A pay raise commission had considered recommending a proposed 47-percent raise to $116,900 a year, or a $37,400 increase. The current base pay is $79,500, but lucrative leadership stipends and per diem expense checks make most of the part-time jobs worth around $100,000.