Many New Yorkers are struggling with high taxes, health care and social services.
They’re driving on bad roads and dangerous bridges. Our inner city schools are struggling. New York City’s mass transit system is falling apart. And the economies of some upstate communities rival those in the rural South.
So what should happen to the government officials who have failed to solve these problems over many years?
Why, they should get a pay raise, of course!
Maybe Gov. Andrew Cuomo is feeling generous after his landslide victory on Election Day and the prospect of overseeing a government controlled entirely by his own political party.
Certainly after negotiating to give nearly 2 billion in taxpayer dollars to a company worth around a trillion dollars, the state could spare a few million more to pad the $79,500 base pay of New York’s 213 part-time state legislators — already the third-highest-paid state lawmakers in the nation.
That base pay is enhanced, in many cases, by additional stipends for committee chairmanships and leadership positions ($4,000 to $9,000 on average), generous daily allowances ($173 a day for food and lodging) and bribes. (OK, maybe that last one was a cheap shot.)
The governor also wants to raise the salaries of state agency commissioners, who are currently making about $127,000 to $136,000 a year.
On Thursday, the governor, who has traditionally resisted pay raises for legislators, came out effusively in favor of them. “Legislators work very hard. They come to Albany. They are away from their families for many days.”
Sure legislators work hard. But so do a lot of New Yorkers who make a lot less. And legislators do spend time away from their families. The Legislature is in session a whole 60 days a year.
The governor’s prodding is significant, in that the commission that will decide on the raises is made up exclusively of Democrats.
It’s nice Mr. Cuomo is feeling so indulgent. But how about instead of directing that indulgence to companies that don’t need the money and government officials who already earn a comfortable living, he direct the money to address the problems we cited at the beginning.
Or at least hold lawmakers over a barrel to pass such necessary legislation as campaign finance reform, election reform, corruption reform, regulation reform and other reforms the state needs.
Putting in the time by itself isn’t justification for a pay raise.
Give the taxpayers better results, and then maybe we can talk.