Lawmakers criticize Cuomo's pay-raise fight

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in a pitched battle with the state Legislature over proposed pay raises in exchange for government reforms as part of a special session before year's end.
 
The war of words ramped up late Wednesday when Cuomo railed against the Legislature’s inaction. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he hadn’t even negotiated with the governor yet on many of his proposals.
 
Cuomo's appointees to a pay commission last month stifled a plan to give the 213-seat Legislature its first raise since 1999.
 
Since then, Cuomo has called on lawmakers to support myriad reforms if they want the commission to reconvene and vote on a pay raise.
 
The maneuvering has irked lawmakers, who agreed last year with Cuomo to set up the pay commission in a bid to take the issue out of the legislative process.
 
"If that isn’t pay to play, I don’t know what the heck is," Sen. John DeFrancisco, D-Syracuse, said Thursday on "The Capitol Pressroom," a public radio show.
 
"You’re basically holding a pay increase over making sure you do what he wants with respect to reform. That’s not the way government should run."
 
Cuomo, though, has argued the Legislature should get a pay raise if they limit outside income, which is done by Congress and the New York City Council.
 
"The governor is most interested in having the people’s business attended to and believes if there is to be a special session the legislators should do more than merely reauthorize a committee to consider their pay raise,"
 
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement Wednesday.
 
Azzopardi said the Democratic governor and legislative leaders are discussing a number of issues: approving a
 
$2 billion affordable housing plan; funding a hate crime task force; and reforming the contracting process at SUNY and CUNY.
 
A pay raise, meanwhile, should also be coupled with changing the state constitution so lawmakers serve for four years instead of two years, but also install term limits to just two terms, Cuomo's office said.
 
Other proposals, Cuomo said, including reducing campaign contribution limits; limiting donations from those seeking state contracts; and allowing the Office of Court Administration to review lawmakers' outside income for any conflicts of interest.
 
Heastie, D-Bronx, ripped Cuomo's tactics.
 
"As I have said many, many times, we are simply not going to trade a pay raise for any piece of legislation," Heastie said in a statement Wednesday night. "That is wildly inappropriate and I cannot be any clearer on this subject."
 
Heastie said that while legislative leaders and Cuomo have talked about some issues unresolved before year's end, many of Cuomo's proposals were new to him.
 
"I have no idea who the governor is speaking to about these issues, but it certainly isn't me," Heastie continued.
 
"The governor is entitled to his wish list about how he wants to see the world, but the Legislature is a co-equal branch of government and must be respected."
 

 


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment
More Stories