BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The 2013 legislative calendars for the State Senate and Assembly have been released, and once again lawmakers will be spending few days actually in session in Albany.
The Senate will be in session just 57 days this year; the Assembly regular session will last 59 days.
Neither body will be in session for a single Friday, and the session only lasts through June. The Assembly actually has 2 weeks in which members will only be in session for a single day.
The base pay for lawmakers is $79,500, although most make more for committee and leadership positions; all get extra in per diem pay. That's one of the highest salaries among any legislative body in the country.
E.J. McMahon with the Empire Center for New York State Policy says the state legislature should be a part-time body with members making part-time pay.
"I would suggest a whole different model, and that whole different model would be something that is here (in Albany) less, and they'd get paid about half as much," McMahon said.
Assemblyman Michael Kearns, D-142nd District, is one of the newer members of the legislature. He agreed that the legislature is overpaid.
"I think it's a part-time job," Kearns said. "Even though I work full time, I think that if we were in session for the whole year, it would be a full-time job."
Many of our local lawmakers work well over 40 hours a week. But groups like the Empire Center say they're doing unnecessary work to fill the time, and if they focused on their core responsibility of passing laws, they could be part-time and save the state a lot of money.
A spokesperson for the Senate leadership said, "Just because legislators aren't in Albany in session doesn't mean they aren't working." He added that lawmakers again hope to pass an early budget and correctly pointed out that much of the dysfunction that has plagued the state capitol has been replaced by a working relationship between both parties and the governor.