Special session to reauthorize Pay Commission possible

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NY lawmakers lash out at Gov- Cuomo over pay raises_60710737-159532

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo released that there is the possibility for a special session that would address reauthorizing a Pay Commission for legislators. 

Other topics that would be discussed during the special session are: 

  • Breaking the Senate and Assembly logjam on the $2 million housing memo and release funds to combat homelessness;
  • Provide new funding to operate the Governor’s Hate Crimes Task Force run by the State Police and DHR to battle recent acts of illegal discrimination;
  • Procurement reforms, including providing Inspectors General for SUNY and CUNY with subpoena power for their foundations;
  • New ethics reforms. 

Included in the new ethics reforms will be: 

  • A constitutional amendment to limit outside income and create a full-time legislature with a full-time salary that will be put before voters;
  • A second constitutional amendment to create 4-year legislative terms and put into place 8-year term limits for new members and term limits for statewide officials, which will be put before voters; 
  • Reducing campaign contribution limits; 
  • Limiting donations from those seeking state contracts during and after the RFP process;
  • Expanding disclosure requirements for local elected officials; 
  • Extending the life of the Pay Commission until post Constitutional Amendments determinations;
  • Empowering the Office of Court Administration to ensure all legislators’ outside income, as well as the Executive’s Commissioners, are free of conflicts and in compliance with the Public Officer’s Law.

A spokesperson for the Governor said that “the Governor is most interested in having the people’s business attended to and believes if there is to be a special session the legislators should do more than merely reauthorize a committee to consider their pay raise.” 

The deadline to act on the Pay Commission is December 31.

In a statement released Wednesday night in response to the Governor’s proposal, Speaker Heastie said: 

As I have said many, many times, we are simply not going to trade a pay raise for any piece of legislation. That is wildly inappropriate and I cannot be any clearer on this subject. That said, we have had a number of conversations on issues important to the people of New York. However, there are items that the Governor has spoken about that have never been brought to my attention. These items include significant issues that go to the very heart of our system of government and they cannot be considered on a whim. I have no idea who the Governor is speaking to about these issues, but it certainly isn’t me. The Governor is entitled to his wish list about how he wants to see the world, but the Legislature is a co-equal branch of government and must be respected.

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