DeFrancisco supports state legislature pay raise, but won't trade for reform
Talks reportedly continue behind the scenes in Albany regarding a pay raise for New York state lawmakers and other officials. The dean of central New York’s Senate delegation agrees an increase should be in order.
Some government staffers in Albany make more than the lawmakers or state officials they work for. That’s something to consider when it comes to a group of people who haven’t had a raise in 15 years, says Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.
“I don’t need a pay raise, I don’t think anyone needs one," DeFrancisco said. "The question is when employees are reaching levels where they are surpassing legislators, then you have to consider those who are following us to consider if it’s a fair salary.”
DeFrancisco also says it’s not just the cash that counts.
"There are commissioners, and many more than simply one, who have refused to take the commissioner job and are actually serving as a commissioner, as an acting commissioner," DeFrancisco said. "They're foregoing the title because being a rank and file administrator they were getting the increases over the years, and they would be taking a pay cut to be the commissioner in the state. Now when it gets to that point, that doesn’t make any sense.”
The senator says there's a problem when many other elected officials make more than their state counterparts, as is sometimes the case in New York City.
“Their city councilors make more than state legislators, and they have other benefits that aren’t available to rank and file legislators," DeFrancisco said. "So as soon as there’s an opening down in New York City, of course there are term limits so they're out after a while, and as soon as they can get back, they’re running for something in the city. I think that’s a concern.”
Being a legislator is a part-time job, and lawmakers currently make $79,500. On top of that are expenses and a per diem payment every day the legislators are in Albany.
DeFrancisco would like to see a commission formed to look at the pay raise issue, including potential changes to the per diem system.
He also says he would oppose any kind of deal that would give lawmakers a raise in exchange for approval of some kind of reform, for example offering financial aid to students in this country illegally. Lawmakers can’t vote themselves a raise mid-session, so they’d have to come back for special session in December for it to apply to the legislature taking office in January.