Lawmaker Pay Raise Idea Emerges During State Budget Talks

ALBANY (AP) -

The possibility of a pay raise for state lawmakers has been added to the bargaining mix as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders worked Wednesday to pass a new budget ahead of a deadline.

Sunday is the start of a new state fiscal year and the deadline for a new budget. But lawmakers want to finish in time for Pesach, which begins Friday at sunset.

Senate Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, said after meeting Tuesday evening with Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx senator, that a pay raise for legislators was being discussed.

Lawmakers are paid $79,500 a year, not including stipends they can earn for leadership posts. A pay commission would be created to consider boosting the salary for the first time since the late 1990s. A similar panel was last created in 2016 to consider raising lawmakers’ pay but the idea was shot down.

To beat Sunday’s budget deadline, Cuomo and the three legislative leaders first must strike deals on a variety of budget proposals, including some that have little to do with state finances.

They include a new uniform harassment policy for state workers and officials, a new tax on opioid manufacturers and a plan to impose surcharges on taxi and Uber rides in the heart of Manhattan.

The issues that appear to be falling off the negotiating table include bail reform, early voting and the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for child molestation and create a one-year window for victims to sue their alleged abusers.

The budget is expected to total around $170 billion. Negotiations among the three leaders broke off on Wednesday over disagreements on a number of issues. Lawmakers were ordered back to the Capitol at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday.

A senior budget negotiator said that there were “many, many issues outstanding” and talks were certain to go into Friday — if “progress continues.”