Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference in New York City on Monday called the state Supreme Court ruling last week that struck down a cap on the amount of money lawmakers can earn outside of the Legislature “confused” — a confusion that could be clarified by the Legislature acting on its own.
The ruling determined a commission examining legislative and executive branch pay overstepped when it capped outside pay for state lawmakers at 15 percent of their public salary. At the same time, the ruling called into question the legality of future pay hikes for the Legislature, due to reach $130,000 in the next two years.
Lawmakers currently earn $110,000.
Cuomo at the news conference expected the decision to be appealed.
“I don’t believe it’s a consistent decision,” he said. “Worst case scenario the legislature could pass the bill saying we will ban outside income ourselves. They could say we will ban outside income if the commission holdings are upheld. So that’s all it comes down to is the outside ban, which the Legislature has already agreed to the outside ban because they took the raise, right? For people who didn’t follow it, the commission said we will give the legislature a raise if they ban outside income. And the Legislature has accepted the raise that has gone into effect. So they’ve accepted the ban on outside income.”
The Legislature and Cuomo in essence kicked the decision for a pay raise to the commission — a decision that had come with political risk for lawmakers who had not received a salary hike since 1999.
“If I were the Legislature I would pass a qualifier, or clarifier, that says we ban outside income,” Cuomo said. “Because they’ve already banned outside income. What’s the alternative to take the raise but not ban outside income? Which I don’t think the people of this state would stand for.”