EDITORIAL: Don’t shorten legislative session

If lawmakers need time to campaign, they can do it on their own time

Oh no you don’t.

You don’t get to vote yourself a gigantic pay raise AND take an early summer vacation to run for re-election.

Quitting early is not part of the deal. So cross any thought of that right off your list and plan to tough it out until you get all your work done. 

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that New York state legislators —who demanded and received a hefty pay raise by claiming the job requires them to work full-time — are apparently considering adjourning the annual legislative session a few weeks earlier than usual next year.

The session would end around Memorial Day instead of mid-June so incumbents could have time to run for re-election in the June 23 party primaries.

Lawmakers are already only in session for about 60 days from January through June.

The rest of the time is theirs to work out of their district offices, attend functions in their districts, meet with constituents and yes, campaign for re-election.

Even with six months to do the state’s business, they still often don’t complete everything they need to get done.

This past legislative session was among the most productive in years.

But even with a new Democratic majority and a list of bills that were ready and waiting for their approval when they arrived, they still left Albany with a full list of uncompleted legislation, including legalization of recreational marijuana and legalization of mobile sports betting. They didn’t enact major reforms to protect passengers in limousine crashes or enact automatic voter registration or pass major reforms needed to reduce corruption and influence-peddling in New York government.

Maybe they could have better used the time they had in session to figure out how to reduce our very high taxes or make the school aid formula fairer to poorer districts or figure out how to repair our crumbling infrastructure.

Also left undone every year are hundreds of bills proposed but not passed, often languishing in committee. Some of these bills could have a significant, positive effect on the lives of New Yorkers.

But lawmakers always run out of time to pass them. And yet they want to spend even less time in Albany next year?

They say they might make up the time by adding more days to the session calendar. But if they could do that next year, why don’t they do it every year?

We’re paying our legislators a pretty good salary to work until the work is done.

If they need time to campaign for re-election, they can do it on their time, not ours.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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