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Empire Center: New York state legislators make more than you think

By Adam Rombel


ALBANY, N.Y. — As New York’s state legislators consider holding a special session to give themselves a raise, an Albany–based think tank reports that most of them are already paid more than their often-cited base pay of $79,500.

The Empire Center for Public Policy’s review of state payroll data shows that more than 75 percent of New York state lawmakers already earn more than that base figure.

The Empire Center says the legislators receive the extra pay from annual stipends issued to those who hold committee posts or other leadership titles. The payments range from $9,000 to $41,500 a year.

Nearly five of six New York state senators were paid more than $90,000 in 2013, including 17 who collected more than $100,000, the center said. More than half of Assembly members were paid more than $90,000, including 11 who received more than $100,000.

Counting both houses of the legislature together, the Empire Center’s data shows that just 38 New York state lawmakers made the often-quoted $79,500 base salary in 2013. Meanwhile, 133 legislators collected more than $90,000 in total pay and another 37 lawmakers were paid between $80,000 and $90,000.

The New York Legislature’s base pay of $79,500 is the third highest in the nation, behind only California and Pennsylvania, the Empire Center reports.

Albany lawmakers have given themselves five raises since 1970. Adjusting for inflation, their base pay over the past 44 years has averaged $89,166. The last pay raise was adopted in 1998 and took effect in 1999. At that point, it was the equivalent of $112,800, in today’s dollars, the Empire Center said.

The center describes itself as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank that promotes “public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.”

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