State Senator: Public’s Opposition to Legislative Pay Raises Based on ‘Ignorance’


While plenty of state lawmakers have privately groused that they’re due their first pay raise since 1999, few have been publicly supportive.

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mt. Vernon, Westchester County, is the exception.

The veteran senator voiced her support earlier this week, telling the Times Union she would be willing to give up the mandated $165-a-day per diem payment for every day spent in Albany if state legislators’ base pay was hiked to $135,000.

Currently state lawmakers are paid a $79,500 base salary, along with the per diems and stipends for leadership positions or committee posts.

We followed up with Hassell-Thompson on Thursday following the release of a Quinnipiac University poll that found 80 percent of New Yorkers oppose a pay increase.

“It’s ignorant ignorance on the part of the public in terms of really being educated about what their legislators really do,” she said Thursday. “Half of the people don’t even know what the hell we do. We don’t do enough to educate people.”

She gave several examples of the time-consuming work she does in her district, which in a single day can consist of several stops in the Bronx as well as Mt. Vernon. Her office, Hassell-Thompson said, serves as something of a one-stop shop for concerns and issues her constituents are dealing with.

Hassell-Thompson also said she’s considering taking a second job — allowed under state law — but said that could be difficult since she already devotes full-time hours to her legislative position.

She took issue with calling her current job “part time.”

“In 2005 when I bought my house, my local taxes were $9,600,” Hassell-Thompson said. “My taxes are $14,000. How am I supposed to cover that increase in costs without some type of outside job? I’m already giving full time to this position (as senator).”


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  1. Matt Richter on

    So now we’re ‘ingorant’ because we ‘don’t know what the hell Ruth Hassell-Thompson does’ and don’t think she should be getting a raise? Seems to me if Ruth Hassell-Thompson were such a hard-worker, her accomplishments would be self-evident and she wouldn’t have to blame her constituent’s ‘ignorance’

  2. HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller on

    The Biggest Joke of The Century! The People are “IGNORANT”?… You are not kidding The Law Makers and Their Pimping is Ignorant of What it is to Hold a Public Office of Trust! The Justification of My Argument is well found by “JUST COUNTING THE NUMBERS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK LAW MAKERS SITTING IN JAIL SINCE 2OO6 to today! That is Ignorant!

    And, ( taking opportunity) let me also mention NEW SQUARE MAYOR AND HIS SON ( Read FBI PUBLIC RECORDS) WHO was not Found in London for 20 God’s Years!

    HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller

  3. She complains about her property and school taxes, yet consistently votes for more property and school taxes, then calls us ignorant. It is to laugh.

  4. If we give her a raise will she do something about the seniors in Mount Vernon who need the meal program at the armory to eat not getting hot meals for over a month now because the stove ‘broke’? Guess she’s been too busy with her time consuming work to notice.

    No one else seems to notice (or care) including this paper.

  5. Mr. Bruce and Habibhassan display their ignorance (and racial antipathy) with their mean-spirited reference to Sen. Hassell-Thompson’s hair style.

    BTW she can make her statement without voter backlash because she has no Primary or credible General Election challenge. Regardless, she is correct to assert that state legislators deserve a pay raise. Legislators must set aside political self-interest, trust the public and state their case.

  6. HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller on

    Mr.Benjamin! My Comment was not at all based on “Race” …but certainly about the BIG HYPOCRITE ATTITUDES OF PICK WHICH ETHNICITY TO FAVOR AND AFTER PICKING THE 3/4 ETHNICITES BASH THE REST OPENLY!

    AND, That’s what I am trying to explain! Why? The “MAJORITY BY BIRTH RATE WITH 3O% of America with Unwanted Births!

    How do you explain what going on here in US! WITHOUT PREJUDICE Just look around!

    Where is common sense and American SUPERMODELS? Do you watch TV!

    Concluding, again I never Commented on ( whoever’s ) hairy style you are referring to!

    And, that’s none of my smoothy business!

    HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller.

  7. HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller on

    FIRST OF ALL I never comment on anyone’s Hair Style….

    SINCE I HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mt. Vernon, Westchester County’s HAIRSTYLE……

    BUT, I think that Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson’s Hair Style in the Picture is very distinguished! And, she looks beautiful in the Picture!

    And, I respect her as a PERSON but she may not be the only one in NY Political Scenes that I differ in Opinions!… ( and what’s best FOR OUR COUNTRY versus WHAT A FEW PARTICULAR ETHNICITIES IMPOSING IT TO BE UPON REST OF THE COUNTRY ( wrong and wrong) just based on thier “BIRTH RATE MAJORITY AND WELFARE BENEFITS as a RIGHT! …

    Without Prejudice ( BASED ON FACTS)

    HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller

  8. It is remarkable that she is an elected official. Here is one of the most liberal, big spending Dems complaining about property taxes – she does not even understand that high taxes are the direct results of her action/inaction. The NYS mandates are driving property taxes higher and higher. And then she calls her constituents ignorant for opposing her pay raise. You just can’t make this stuff up.

  9. Wait, I’m “ignorant” because I don’t think she should make 4x as much as most Americans? Got it.

  10. She will give up her per diem (which we have seen has been abused on a regular basis) for close to a $60,000 pay raise?!?! ABSURD. I do agree that legislators should be full time, and that’s mostly so they have fewer opportunities to govern for their own, they employers or clients self interests; but $135,000 a year? Please. And yes, property taxes keep rising, maybe the Senator is ignorant about the impact of legislation and how social programs are paid for.

  11. The fact that the state has dangle a carrot i.e. $185.00 for everyday you are in Albany, is very telling.

  12. WOW! Just WOW! It is hard to imagine that some of our leaders are this ignorant. While our taxpayers suffer, this woman wants to give herself more money. It’s unethical. If she hates the paycheck she receives, she should do what normal people would have to do and just quit.

  13. I can’t believe she has the audacity to rhetorically ask the people how she is supposed to cope with HER tax hike, when she should instead be focusing on how to help NY citizens with the same problem. Moreover, it isn’t as if the rest of us don’t have to, *GASP*, seek a second job when we live beyond our means and accrue too much overhead. It is obvious that she is mistaking our full understanding and contempt of her demand for ignorance.

  14. Ah, another politician with promises to be “of the people” turns out to be corrupt. Here’s a quick question for you, Senator: At what point does your office staff get a pay raise they’ve probably been promised for years while you try to steal more money?

  15. SHOW ME THE MONEY! The tax payers suffer while she wants to give her self more money! I agree with the 80 percent of New Yorkers who oppose a pay increase.

  16. What ever happened to the idea of service? I understand that she sacrifices time, I understand that the pay may not seem that great to her, but our representatives used to volunteer to this, no pay. George Washington refused to receive pay for his time as commander of the Continental Army, and only accepted reimbursement of his expenses (which he kept a meticulous record of). The public doesn’t OWE these people anything. If anything, these representatives owe us BACK their salaries for wasting our tax dollars.

  17. What a Joke. I completely agree with Jacob. If she thinks she isn’t getting paid enough, then she can go find another job. I thought being a legislator was about serving the public, which typically implies making some sacrifices.

    And as for the tax increases she is suffering from, how much do you want to bet that even if she didn’t directly vote for those increases, she has voted to directly increase taxes for other citizens in New York?

  18. My boss would tell me to find another job if I asked for a $50K raise, I suggestion she take his advice. She has about as much gall as contempt for voters.

  19. so let me get this straight one of the reasons she wants a pay increase is because her taxes are higher, how about no pay increase but lower taxes for everyone?

  20. Well now, how interesting. Suddenly the seniors in Mt Vernon are getting hot meals again. I’m sorry, was it something I said?

  21. Willie Maise on

    Instead of spitting satire and vitriol, Say thank you for your free meals, hot or otherwise.

  22. May you be blessed in your old age with independence, health, and enough food to live on. May you never have to face the choice of spending your pension or social security on medication or food. May you always be able to cook for yourself or never be so alone that you seek out companionship at a government sponsored program (which taxes of those who take part in these programs have helped to fund). May you never be warehoused in a nursing facility, where all your assets are turned over to medicaid and degraded with a 50.00 a month allowance, or whatever it is, while state senators humbly seek 50,000.00 a year pay raises. And mayors making three figures don’t pay their taxes. May you learn to direct your contempt where it’s deserved.

  23. so sick of it on

    This woman is a disgrace to democracy, It’s too bad she doesn’t have an opponent – she has been in office for over a decade and what exactly has she accomplished? Higher taxes, less resources for our communities and lots of per diems and lulu’s for herself. Hassell-Thompson should be ashamed of herself – she is a thief who revealed herself in plain sight and now everyone knows the truth! Unfortunately, she will waltz to victory again this fall and continue to steal more from the hardworking people who pay her salary. Disgusting.