Cash-Strapped Lawmakers Make Do

José M. Serrano

July 29, 2010

Albany Times Union

Published: Saturday, May 22, 2010

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Marc Molinaro the real estate salesman hasn't closed a deal in over 18 months. So it's a good thing his alter ego, Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, pulls in $79,500 per year serving in the state Legislature. Now, however, the Dutchess County Republican is coming up empty in both roles. When lawmakers can't agree on a budget, the state puts a moratorium on their biweekly income. The legislative paychecks -- $3,057.69 each in base pay -- pile up at the office of Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Once both houses and the governor agree on a budget, the suspension is lifted and checks will be released to the lawmakers, who will receive full compensation for time they worked without pay. But with the budget impasse already at seven weeks with no end in sight, some legislators, especially those like Molinaro with young families and no other source of income, are starting to feel the pinch. "I have an outside job with no outside income," said Molinaro, 35, who lives in Red Hook. His wife works part-time at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck. Sen. Jose Serrano, D-Manhattan-Bronx, was prepared for the this year's stalemate. "We knew this was going to happen," Serrano said. "We use our savings and we try to scrape by. You hope that it's going to be over soon so you can get back on track. I have a feeling, though, that we're not going to go endlessly without having a budget in place. I think the sense of urgency is becoming very real -- not just for us, but for everyone involved."