Central New York democrats, except for one, vote in favor of giving themselves 29% raise

December 29, 2022

Originally published in CNY Central on December 29, 2022.

On Governor Kathy Hochul's desk sits a piece of legislation that would give NYS lawmakers a $142k annual salary; all Central New York Democrats voted in favor, except one.

"It's a 29 percent increase, that's shocking to people," said Senator John Mannion.

Senator Mannion said he was in support of incremental increases, but believed this single hike was far too much. He joined lawmakers from across the state in Albany last Thursday in a special session to vote on the pay raise just days before Christmas.

MORE: NY legislative pay raises much higher than neighboring states

Votes fell largely along party lines as legislators voted to make themselves the highest paid state lawmakers in the country, passing the assembly 81-52 and the senate 33-23. Republicans largely voted against the raise, arguing that the money could be better spent and that it sends the wrong message at time when New Yorkers are facing economic difficulties.

"I'm sure millions of New Yorkers would love the ability to boost their own paychecks," said Assemblyman Will Barclay in a statement, "But that's not how things work in the real world, and not how they should work in the state legislature."

The Republican, representing Oswego, said that Democrats rejected a bill put forth by Republicans to allow voters to make a more direct decision on legislator pay.

Democrats, largely in favor of the raise, argued that the pay hike is in line with cost of living and inflation difficulties. They said that being a state lawmaker is a difficult full time job, and raising the pay will help attract the best and brightest.

"Public service should be available to everyone regardless of wealth, and we don’t want qualified people to rule out running for office because they can’t afford to do the job. Raising the pay will allow lawmakers to dedicate their full time to these demanding jobs without needing to moonlight or work in industries that have business in front of the legislature," said Senator Rachel May in a statement.

The bill also caps outside earnings at $35k, which Senator May argued was important for integrity. Senator May of Syracuse voted yes along with her CNY democratic colleagues in the assembly, including Al Stirpe, Pam Hunter, and Bill Magnarelli. After voting to increase their pay for this full time job, none of them were available for an interview Thursday.

Senator Mannion agreed with the outside salary cap, but still took issue with the overall pay increase. He agreed, however, that the wages should go up to allow for legislators to hold that single job.

The democrat, now representing parts of Onondaga and Oswego county, won his race over republican challenger Rebecca Shiroff by just 10 votes after a hand recount and judicial review of the ballots. We questioned him on whether or not senate democrats gave him the greenlight to vote no, given he is now competing in a very purple district and will likely need to case moderate votes.

"I need to go down to Albany and be a good reflection of my district," said Senator Mannion, "the no vote came down to I think there's a better way."

If the bill gets Governor Hochul's approval, it will take effect January 1st 2023.