Reform advocates, most voters and Gov. Andrew Cuomo want to help clean up scandal-scarred Albany by prohibiting the state’s 213 legislators from making serious money on the side.
But the most recent financial filings show that most lawmakers already get by without substantial outside income. In fact, a majority reported no earnings from sideline work. Those with other jobs included a pharmacist, a veterinarian and an insurance agency owner.
The disclosures filed last year show just 24 lawmakers, mostly lawyers, were making about as much or more in outside income as their $79,500 base annual pay from the state.
In fact, those 24 accounted for at least two-thirds of outside income reported for 2014, which ranged between $4.6 million and $7.1 million. In the imprecise system, income is reported in ranges.
In his latest ethics initiative, Cuomo proposed limiting legislators’ outside income to 15 percent of state pay, similar to restrictions on Congress. Last week, Siena College pollsters reported 60 percent of voters support making the Legislature full time and banning outside employment. The positions are currently considered part time. The Legislature usually meets from January through June, though senators and Assembly members staff offices year round.
The biggest earner in Albany is Michael Ranzenhofer, an Erie County Republican and attorney with a salary of between $150,000 and $250,000.