ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday refused to say if he supports proposed raises of as much as 47 percent for state legislators, himself and his top appointees.
That proposal would mean a $37,400 raise for legislators, to an annual base salary of $116,900 a year for jobs which in law are part-time.
“That is an option that they are considering,” Cuomo said Wednesday. “They are considering options from zero to 47.”
The state Commission on Legislative, Judicial & Executive Compensation is scheduled to make its final report on raises for legislators, Cuomo and others in December, after the legislative elections. Without any move by Cuomo or the Legislature, the raises would begin Jan. 1, under the measure approved by Cuomo and legislators.
The base salary for legislators is now $79,500 and unchanged since 1999. An array of leadership stipends and committee posts increase that base by as much as $41,500 for the leader of the Senate and Assembly in addition to allowances of about $172 per day for lodging and meals for most lawmakers.
According to a transcript of the commission’s discussion, the governor’s pay would rise to as much as $263,000 from $179,000; and the salaries of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would rise to as much as $222,000 from $151,500 now.
For years legislators have avoided the dicey political issue of voting to raise their pay amid a string of corruption scandals. A year ago Cuomo and legislative leaders created a commission that would collect testimony statewide on the issue and decide the issue.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the commission,” Cuomo said at a press event near Rochester. “I will have a very clear opinion, but I want to be informed by them… let them finish their report then we will take it from there.”
Cuomo has three appointees to the commission, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has one, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) has one, and Chief Judge Jane DiFiore, who was appointed to the court by Cuomo last year, has two appointees including the commission chairman.
Only Heastie was among the legislative leaders who responded to questions Wednesday on whether they support a 47 percent raise, which was one of the options the commission considered in its discussion over the summer.
“As the Speaker has said many times, he firmly believes members of the Legislature work hard and deserve a raise,” said Heastie spokesman Michael Whyland. “It is long overdue and will help attract and retain quality public servants … Pay raises are a concern for the governor’s administration as well.”
Whyland wouldn’t comment further, saying instead: “The commission was created to determine what the pay scales should be and it should be allowed to do its work.”
Commission member Roman Hedges, a former Assembly staffer, said raises are needed to attract and retain top people.
“Does 47 percent seem high to me? Yes, it does,” said Assembly Republican leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua). “I expect the commission to consider a number of factors, such as time since the last increase, inflationary models or comparisons other state legislatures. Ultimately, it’s the commission that has to come up with an appropriate assessment and calculation.”