ALBANY - Allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo blocked a pay raise Tuesday for New York's 213 state lawmakers, arguing the Legislature should limit the amount of private income legislators can earn before getting a public-salary bump.
A panel tasked with setting the pay rate of lawmakers, state agency heads and certain statewide officials failed to reach consensus Tuesday at its final scheduled meeting, with Cuomo's appointees banding together to withhold support for any proposed pay hike.
The state Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation faced a Tuesday deadline to recommend a new salary level, which would have automatically become law unless lawmakers blocked it.
It would have been the first raise for lawmakers and agency commissioners since 1999. As it stands, lawmakers receive an annual base salary of $79,500, with most receiving additional stipends for leadership positions.
Fran Reiter, a member of the commission and a former aide to Cuomo, said the governor's three appointees opposed a raise in part because the Legislature hasn't agreed to limit the amount of income lawmakers can receive from private employers.
State lawmakers are considered part-time, allowing them to earn unlimited amounts of outside income. Cuomo has backed a strict limit on the amount they can earn.
"A state Legislature with real limits on outside income would have made a much stronger case for meriting a raise," Reiter said.
The decision by Cuomo's allies rankled some members of the seven-member pay commission, which accused the governor in interfering with a panel that was set up to be removed from the Legislature and executive branch.
Roman Hedges, a former Assembly employee appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said he thinks it's "awful" that "the governor thinks he is king."
"And I think it's awful that the governor's representatives here think he should be king," Hedges said.
Hedges proposed a 2.2 percent annual increase for lawmakers, commissioners, the state attorney general and comptroller dating back to their last raise, which would work out to a 47 percent salary increase beginning in January.
So lawmakers pay would go to roughly $116,000.
But his proposal needed support from at least one Cuomo appointee, which it didn't get.
The 2015 state law creating the commission required at least one appointee of each branch of governor support a pay hike for it to take effect.
Currently, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli both make $151,500, while agency commissioners and board members make anywhere from $90,800 to $136,000.
Reiter said Cuomo's appointees are open to reconvening before the end of the year -- but only if the state Legislature agrees to limit their private income.
"This will give the Assembly and Senate the opportunity to meet before year's end and pass the reforms demanded by their constituents," Reiter said.
But reconvening the pay commission would test state law, which clearly set a Tuesday deadline for the panel to reach an agreement.
"This commission will have no authority beyond today," said Barry Crozier, a former judge appointed to the panel by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.
Sheila Birnbaum, the commission's chair, agreed. Hedges' proposal was put to a vote, with Cuomo's appointees abstaining and Crozier voting against it.
Along with Reiter, Cuomo's appointees to the commission were former state Budget Director Robert Megna and Revlon general counsel Mitra Hormozi, a former Cuomo aide who was not present for the meeting.