This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.
While New York suffers from the results of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the state’s deficit expected to skyrocket to $63 billion over the next four years, guess who’s getting a $25,000 raise starting in January?
Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, that’s who. His salary will jump from $225,000 to $250,000. He will be the highest-paid governor in the country.
“More than one million residents are out of work, and the unemployment rate is nearly double the national average,” The New York Times reported about New York state at the end of October.
But while Cuomo will be getting his raise, along with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — all Democrats — New York legislators, judges and commissioners are not entitled to any such thing, according to a Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation (CLJEC) panel, which decided on Monday that there wasn’t room in the state’s budget for that. That decision can be overturned by the state legislature, but that is considered unlikely.
“The commission is composed of appointees of the chief judge of New York, the state Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” Spectrum News noted.
CLJEC wrote, “Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time.”
“The base salary for New York’s 213 lawmakers is currently set at $110,000, plus a per diem for each day they spend at the Capitol in Albany,” The Daily Mail noted. “The salary for judges is varied based on their bench, with state Supreme Court judges making about $210,000.”
Cuomo’s raise was approved last year by the state Senate and Assembly.
On Tuesday, Cuomo asked the federal government for more money, stating, “We don’t have a shovel big enough to dig out of [the deficit]. It’s the biggest number in history. We need help from Washington … Biden ran, and I know him and I supported and he’s a good man – he will fund state and local governments and we need that to come even close to balancing the budget.”
The CLJEC panel echoed, “’We understand the potential for significant budget cuts may be necessary at the state executive level as well if the federal government does not enact additional funding to address the economic hardship caused by COVID-19. Substantial additional state monies will be needed to deal with the pandemic, including providing face masks, virus tracking, contact tracing, enforcement efforts, and distribution of the hoped for new pandemic vaccine. Simply put the commissioners’ worst fears as articulated in the 2019 Report — a downturn in the state’s finances coupled with an inability to cover increased salary obligations — has unfortunately come to stark reality in the worst possible way.”
MarketWatch reported at the end of July of New York City: “The city — an early epicenter of the outbreak that has now become one of the cities with the fewest cases in the U.S. — saw a roughly 90% decline in visitors during the last quarter of fiscal year 2020, which ended June 30, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said in a recent interview with MarketWatch. That amounted to an estimated loss of $270 million in hotel taxes, in addition to another $250 million in other tourism-related sales tax revenue during that period, Stringer said.”
Update: according to USA Today: “Cuomo announced on Nov. 18 that he would not be taking the $25,000 pay raise he was scheduled to receive. State lawmakers approved of the annual salary increase in 2019. He does not decide his raises himself.”