From Bill Samuels Backs A Full-Time (And Better Paid) Legislature

Count Bill Samuels among those supporting a full-time Legislature.

Samuels, a businessman, good-government activist and Democratic Party donor, on Friday released a report calling for state lawmakers to receive a pay increase from their current base salary of $79,500, but with the stipulation they be barred from earning outside income.

“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,” Samuels wrote in the report. “This low-pay has motivated many lawmakers to seek outside income…The members of the Senate and Assembly will not function as an ethical and dedicated full-time legislature unless they receive a salary commensurate with the importance of their position… A salary increase to $125,000 per year with strict limits on outside income will help end the culture of corruption in Albany and improve how the legislature functions and represents the people.”

With adjustments for inflation and an “equal distribution” of leadership stipends, Samuels pegs the full-time Legislature’s salary at $125,000.

Lawmakers last received a pay increase in 1999.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not advocating a full-time Legislature in the wake of Sheldon Silver’s corruption scandal.

Instead, Cuomo is pushing full disclosure of outside income as well as requiring lawmakers to reveal their business relationships and clients.

Samuels, however, contends this doesn’t go far enough.

“Recently, Governor Cuomo called on New York to adopt the strongest disclosure laws in the country. This goal is laudable and should be pursued, but merely requiring our state’s elected officials to disclose their conflicts of interest does not eliminate them. That is why we are calling for the state Legislature to adopt the same strict limits on outside income—no more than 15% of their pay as legislators—and stringent disclosure requirements as Congress,” Samuels writes in the report.

Cuomo is not necessarily against a pay increase, which he last dangled in front of lawmakers in December in exchange for ethics and campaign finance reform legislation being approved.

Cuomo now backs a pay commission that would determine when lawmakers can receive a pay increase, along with a two-tiered pay structure for those earning outside income and those who receive their pay from their public positions.

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