A state judge on Thursday tossed a cap on outside income for the state Legislature imposed by a pay commission in a report late last year, but leaves in place a pay raise for members of the Senate and Assembly.
The decision is a victory for the Republican state lawmakers who have challenged the limit on how much members of the Legislature can earn in the private sector, which caps outside income at 15 percent of their public-sector pay.
The ruling is likely to be appealed. The cap was due to take effect at the end of the year and could trigger a wave of retirements for lawmakers who hold jobs outside of the Legislature.
“There is nothing that authorized it to recommend restrictions on outside income and employment that have the force of law,” Judge Richard Platkin wrote. “These policy matters remain reserved for the Legislature and governor.”
A pay commission formed in 2018 by law recommended pay increases for statewide elected officials and the Legislature. Legislative pay increased for the first time since 1999 under the panel’s recommendation, growing from $79,500 to $110,000 by the start of the year. Once full phased in, lawmakers will earn $130,000.
The New York State Committee on Legislative and Executive Compensation was created in 2018 to study whether to raise the pay of state legislators, the governor and other state officials since their salaries had been locked in since 1999.
It ultimately recommended raising legislators’ base pay from $79,500 annually to $130,000, phased in over three years. The first step took effect in January, boosting lawmakers’ pay to $110,000.