Silver advocates for state lawmakers' pay raise

PHOTO: Karen DeWitt / NY Public Radio

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continues to advocate for a pay raise for state lawmakers, who have seen their salaries frozen since 1999.

The last time state legislators raised their base pay, to $79,500, was over a dozen years ago.  Lately, the Speaker of the State Assembly, Sheldon Silver has been saying perhaps it’s time for an increase. He says since 1999, more legislators than ever have eschewed outside income and live only on their Assembly and Senate pay, which in downstate New York, is not a lot of money.

“There are a number of talented people who I think are underpaid,” said Silver, who says it the pay is not raised soon, the job will “attract a lesser quality” of candidate.

Governor Cuomo has also complained that it’s hard to hire top level commissioner’s because of the relatively low pay scale, but says now is not the right time for pay hikes, with the economic slowdown.

Silver favors appointing a commission to decide future legislative salaries, to “take it out of the political process”.