Knowing New York City Council Members deserved pay raises to make them full time public servants, Ben Kallos wrote a bill that gained six additional sponsors. It brought radical change. In an editorial, the New York Times says a State commission should follow that example.
In a statement late yesterday, Kallos, whose district covers the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, said, "In 2016, I authored and successfully worked to pass legislation making the City Council a full-time job. We banned stipends referred to as 'lulus' and got rid of outside income that exposed Council Members to corruption, or at the very least, its appearance."
What's happening in Albany, as pay raises are considered for State legislators, is different.
In 2016, Kallos and his fellow Council Members voted publicly on their own pay raise, risking criticism, but also accepting restrictions aimed at eliminating major influences on corruption. Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislators took a different path, assigning the compensation decisions to a commission made up of former and current State and City Comptrollers.
"With this small bit of Albany craftiness," said the Times, "state lawmakers may be able to get a raise without having to actually vote for one."
Fears are that legislators will get a no strings attached raise without the outside income restrictions Kallos wrote into the City Council package. That's a huge risk in a State where corruption is so rampant that leaders from both major parties are now serving time in jail, joined by intimates of the Governor who were also caught misusing public positions for personal gain.
"The public would be better served if any pay raises that may come were tied to banning outside income and lulus for state lawmakers." Kallos concluded.
The Times agreed, "Good government demands fair compensation for lawmakers, but only when they earn and keep the public’s trust.