Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asked about whether paying lawmakers more may deter them from participating in bribery schemes, brought up another age-old Albany debate on Monday.
Should the state Legislature transition to full time?
State lawmakers are currently considered part-time workers. They’re allowed to supplement their $79,500 salary by moonlighting in the private sector, and many of them do. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate co-leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos all hold second jobs with law firms, for example.
Taking questions from reporters in Manhattan Monday, Cuomo began to wonder aloud whether making the switch to full time is worth the trouble. He made the comments after unveiling a package of anti-bribery laws in the wake of a pair of bribery scandals that shook Albany last week.
Here’s what Cuomo had to say:
I think one of the big questions is should we have a full time Legislature. When you have a part-time Legislature, you pose many more potential conflicts. People are practicing law, they have clients, clients have an interest in government. They’re also a legislator; they’re also in business. The number of potential conflicts goes way up.
Now, a full-time Legislature is also problematic. We’re supposed to be a citizen Legislature. You have to pay people more. Some people think if they’re actually in Albany more, they’ll do more harm. But I think it’s one of the questions.