Just Six NY Senators’ Outside Income Tops Their State Pay

ALBANY (AP) -

Financial disclosures show just six state senators exceeded their legislative pay with outside income last year while efforts to restrict it foundered in the chamber.

Filings at the state ethics commission by all 63 senators included five attorneys and one builder who made $100,000 or more from other jobs. At the same time, 33 senators reported having no other work.

Legislative sessions in Albany run from January through June, but lawmakers maintain staffed offices in their districts that are expected to help constituents all year. The base state pay for state Senate and Assembly members is $79,500, and many get additional money for leadership posts.

In March, the Democrat-controlled Assembly voted to limit legislators’ outside income to about $70,000 annually. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed limiting it to 15 percent of their base salaries. Advocates said it would help curb the influence of outside money on state government.

However, neither proposal advanced in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Most senators reported spouses with incomes, pensions or investment returns. A commission is studying whether lawmakers deserve raises.

  • Sen. Marc Panepinto, a Buffalo Democrat in his first term, reported income between $150,000 and $250,000 as a personal injury litigator, as well as profit from the law practice between $650,000 and $750,000. He is not running for another term.
  • Republican Sen. George Amedore, whose family builds homes in the Albany area, reported income of $200,000 to $300,000 from two of their companies.
  • Sen. Michael Nozzolio, a Monroe County Republican, reported income of $150,000 to $250,000 as a senior adviser and recruiter for a large law practice. He has announced plans to retire.

Senators reporting law incomes of $100,000 to $150,000 were Michael Ranzenhofer, an Erie County Republican, and Philip Boyle and John Flanagan, Long Island Republicans.

The Assembly-passed bill also would have prohibited the state’s 213 lawmakers from getting paid by law firms or others for simply putting their names on the letterhead or for making client referral recommendations, instead requiring actual work and proportionate pay.

Flanagan, who said he stopped working privately as a lawyer after becoming majority leader in May 2015, said he supports the right of others to do it. He reported the same $100,000 to $150,000 of outside income in 2014.

In the Assembly, 12 of the 148 members who filed financial disclosures for 2015 showed outside incomes of at least $100,000. Most reported doing no outside work for money.