The state Legislature should be made full time, and they should get a pay raise to $125,000, Democratic activist Bill Samuels said in a report today.
The move, Samuels said, would end the abuses that have come from lawmakers having outside income — most notably the arrest of then-Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, on charges that he got $4 million in kickbacks from two law firms for more than a decade, Gannett’s Denise Nickerson reports.
Samuels’ report titled “Full Time, Full Pay: The Path to a Dedicated Legislature” recommends that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature agree to make lawmakers full time and ban most outside income. Legislators receive a base pay of $79,500, but most receive stipends for leadership posts.
“The members of the state Senate and Assembly have not received a raise in 16 years and their base pay of $79,500 is significantly less than the $112,500 New York City Council members receive. This low-pay has motivated many lawmakers to seek outside income,” Samuels said.
Samuels, who has toyed with running for office, including lieutenant governor in 2010 and 2014, said the Legislature should construct a model similar to what is done in Congress — where members can earn 15 percent of their salary on outside work so long as there is no conflicts of interest. Samuels runs Effective NY, a reform group.
Cuomo has said that an outright ban would be the cleanest way to get end the potential conflicts with outside income, but he said it wouldn’t pass the Legislature. Instead, he’s proposed a series of new disclosures and reforms to make the outside income of lawmakers more transparent.
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