WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Panel: No pay raises for Legislature, Cuomo, judges

Nov 19, 2020
Originally published on November 16, 2020 4:54 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, members of the state Legislature, and judges in New York will not receive a pay raise next year due to the state’s $14 billion budget shortfall heading into 2021, according to a report issued Monday by a state panel tasked with evaluating those salaries.

The decision wasn’t a surprise; the same panel declined to provide raises to the state’s judges last year when the budget deficit was less than half what it is now.

That means members of the state Legislature will maintain their current base salary of $110,000, which doesn’t include certain stipends and payments for housing and meals while they’re in Albany for session.

Cuomo is on track to earn $250,000 annually, a salary given to him by a previous commission tasked with evaluating legislative and executive salaries.

Judges of the State Supreme Court — the lowest level in New York — will also not receive a pay increase for the second year in a row. The salaries of those judges were evaluated last year as well, but weren’t changed due to the state’s budget deficit.

Those judges are paid more than $210,000 each year. The salaries of appellate judges are tied to that amount, so they won’t be getting a pay raise either.

The panel, called the Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive Compensation, said in a report released Monday that approving a salary increase for any of those public officials wouldn’t be prudent given the state’s fiscal crisis.

“Simply put, the commissioners’ worst fears as articulated in the 2019 Report — a downturn in the state’s finances coupled with an inability to cover increased salary obligations — has unfortunately come to stark reality in the worst possible way,” the report said.

“Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time.”

The panel is made up of seven members appointed by Cuomo, members of the state Legislature, and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.

It held two meetings in the last two months to discuss potential salary increases for state officials. During both meetings, members of the commission appeared to be united in their decision to keep salaries for state officials stagnant this year.

The decision is binding for the next four years unless the Legislature passes a law stating otherwise. Lawmakers have the ability to raise their own pay and that of other officials, but have ceded that authority to the commission in recent years.

Unless there’s action from the Legislature, the next commission will begin to consider salary increases in 2023.

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