Trade talks: Skelos won’t swap pay raise for minimum wage hike, Dream Act

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Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos on Monday said he supports giving state lawmakers their first raise in 14 years.

2011-06-16-ap-dean-skelosjpg-86d488f80523b523But what is he willing to give up in order to get Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval? It may be easier to say what he’s not willing to approve — a variety of bills favored by Democrats, including a further hike in the minimum wage or making college tuition aid available to immigrants in the country illegally.

“There will be a discussion, I’m sure, about it,” Skelos said. “We’re not doing the Dream Act, we’re not doing minimum wage, we’re not doing taxpayer financing. If there are other reforms that we can come up with, then I’m for it.”

Skelos did signal he was open to discussing reforms to lawmakers’ per diem system, in which they’re paid $172 a day — the federal rate — for each day they spend in Albany.

“That’s possible,” Skelos said.

Critics say the per diem system, which doesn’t require lawmakers to submit receipts for expenses, is ripe for abuse. Now-former Assemblyman William Boyland, D-Brooklyn, was ordered to repay the state after state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli audited his reimbursement claims, while Assemblyman William Scarborough was indicted in October on charges related to his per diem requests.

State lawmakers currently make a base salary of $79,500 a year, with many earning leadership stipends ranging from $9,000 to $41,500. The job is technically considered part time, which also allows them to work in the private sector to earn additional income.

(AP file photo)

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  1. So Skelos & Co want a raise but it’s not good to give a raise to the underpaid workers in New York State. How dare Skelos et al say that they deserve a raise, what gall. Too bad we can’t fire them all until 2016.