Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today said he supports an increase in pay for state lawmakers, suggesting that perhaps a commission be set up to look at adjusting legislators’ pay.
“I will consider it at any time. There has been no discussion about it,” he said outside his Assembly office. “I think members deserve it. There are a number of members, myself not included, who just do this. In the Assembly, what’s unique is 50 members of the Democratic conference, this is their pay. They’re not committee chairs, they don’t have extra stipends. It’s a basic pay.”
The New York Post first reported on Silver’s position this morning.
State lawmakers haven’t received a pay increase since 1999 and their base pay is set at $79,500. Many receive stipends for leadership positions on legislative committees.
Pay raises for judges had long been tied to legislative raises, but the two were split in 2010 when a judicial pay panel was formed. A judicial pay panel last August recommended a 27 percent pay raise for state judges over the next three years. The money was included in the judiciary’s budget submitted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month.
Silver suggested a similar panel for lawmakers, and possibly agency commissioners, who also haven’t had a raise. He suggested that the lack of a pay raise for commissioners has hurt Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recruitment efforts.
“There are commissioners here where the statute fixes their salary, and the governor can’t find anybody to fill them for the same reason – it hasn’t been updated in about 13, 14 years,” said Silver, who is of counsel at the powerful Manhattan law firm Weitz and Luxenberg. “So it’s time for us to probably put together a study commission and see what’s appropriate.”
Silver said there has been no discussion with the Republican-led Senate or Cuomo about a potential raise.
“You’re asking me my opinion about it,” Silver said. “I’m telling you my opinion: Members deserve a raise.”
Lawmakers are unable to vote themselves a raise, so the current Legislature would have to do it this year for the Legislature that would be seated next January, after this November’s elections.