Lawmakers Declare an “On Time” Budget for Pay Raises

New York lawmakers had one requirement to receive a pay raise: pass the state budget on time. They failed, but they still got their raise anyway.

State lawmakers were already well compensated with a base salary of $79,500. Plus, they got a $175-a-night per diem for each night they spend in Albany and many received generous leadership stipends.

But the State Compensation Committee ultimately voted to give lawmakers and top officials a whopping 63-percent pay raise. The first phase of the raise took effect on January 1, and lawmakers’ salaries will continue to increase each year until hitting $130,000 in 2021. Governor Cuomo is also set to receive a pay raise, and his salary will reach $250,000. That would make him the highest-paid governor in the nation.

However, the raises are predicated on passing a “timely” state budget. And as lawmakers were scrambling to finalize the budget over the weekend, they learned that they must also pass an additional resolution to phase in the Governor’s pay raise. Several lawmakers spoke anonymously to the Times Union, saying they felt “pressured” to vote in favor of the resolution, which ultimately passed.

Now with a finalized budget, lawmakers were unclear whether it would constitute as on-time. Final approval was due at midnight on April 1. The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the Senate approved the measure around 2:45 a.m., while the Assembly did so around 7 a.m.

State law does not clearly define what constitutes a “timely” budget. However, the state Comptroller’s Office certified that the 2019-20 budget was on time, arguing that it was completed before the state opened for business on April 1.

New York has been notorious for late budgets. In fact, lawmakers were known for literally stopping the clocks at midnight in the Capitol to claim they completed the budget before its deadline. Not too much has changed since then. While lawmakers might not be physically stopping clocks anymore, they’re still breaking the rules.

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