January 28, 2008

Pay Raises for State Legislators

A lot of negative stuff has been written about the governor floating the idea of pay raises for state legislators. The visceral action is predictable and at some level I agree....but then I started to think more.

Do we need to pay elected officials better to attract better candidates for office? I mean, working in the Legislature in Albany is a grind....the travel back and forth, the constant commitments that keep a legislator away from friends and family when they're back in their districts.

And even local office...is $15K a fair wage for county legislators? Are we attracting the best and brightest? Would $30K for this part-time gig attract a whole new class of legislator?

I think I fall on the side of pay more for current officeholders but end the legacy perks (I'm talking to you Sean O'Connor) that jack up the bill on taxpayers long after the "service to the public" has ended.

Nothing is more disgusting then watching some person serve in local government for 30 years part-time and then take a gig with the state for three years to get their high three in and then have a SWEET pension for the rest of their lives.

fyi: 30 years of service gets you 75 percent of your high three years as a pension. So, if I was a county legislature for 30 years making $15K, I got 75 percent of $15K for a pension, not much. But if I can land a $100K patronage job for three years, I know receive a $75K pension for the rest of my life...nice work if you can get it. (Again, I'm looking at you Mr. O'Connor.)

So, pay them more know when their serving the public and when their time is up give them a nice plaque and a gold watch and that's all.

13 comments:

Larry S said...

There is no doubt that these perks that part-time elected officials pick up cost the taxpayers boatloads of money over time. This is not exclusive to the county legislature. I would venture a guess that virtually every elected body in Niagara County, with the exception of school boards, gets some type of health coverage while in office, and after they leave office. This practice has to stop. The Water and Sewer Districts also offer lifetime health insurance. These benefits cost taxpayers of this county millions.

Cracker Jack said...

Look what happened in Niagara Falls this past year. They doubled the salary for Mayor and had the same characters running. No one new. No fresh faces. So I don't buy this line of thinking.

frank degeorge said...

I agree with Hobbes and Larry...it's the benefits at all levels of local government that cost taxpayers millions. Pay local government officials a fair wage for the work they put in and that's all. Why the heck these local officials are in the state retirement systems is beyond me.

fed up in da falls said...

The Niagara Falls thing is interesting. The doubled the pay to what, $70,000? That's not enough to attract a real qualified candidate, maybe a CPA for example.

On Hobbes point, if you didn't have to pay all these extra bennys to old lawmakers, you could easily set the mayor's salary at $150,000 and then see who runs.

Anonymous said...

It's tough when you look at all the comments. I agree with more pay for better candidates would be a good idea, but then again look at Niagara Falls as mentioned and North Tonawanda did the same thing and look who they got with Soos. Plus part time elected officials shouldn't be thrown in with full time elected officials. If you work full time as your only job as an elected official, I think you should get more that a gold watch. Maybe not 75% but something.

fat tony said...

Interesting points. Maybe this all ties into term limits. Pay a good salary for good work and term limit people out so things like pensions and lifetime health insurance are non-issues.

Can't Fool 'em All said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we had people run for office out of a committment to the community and not some grand scheme to make as much money as possible?

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that state legislators are PART TIME. Many are lawyers, dentists, insurance agents, and farmers on the side. Honestly, this cuts both ways and we need to decide which way to go. Either you want them FULL time where you must give them a salary comparable to what they will make in the private sector to attract good leaders OR keep them PART time allowing them to pad their own personal wealth - but don't raise their part time legislative pay any more.

Cardinal said...

To his credit, Mayor Tucker refused a raise earlier this year. I believe that he truly has his heart in the job first and foremost and monetary considerations play no part in his service to the Lockport community. We need more leaders like Mayor Tucker.

rasputin said...

I think what's disgusting is the way pay raises get dangled out their to entice the legislator into action. Where is the lobbying commission or FBI now? Pataki bribed legislators with a pay raise for charter schools and Spitzer is trying to bribe them now.

Silly me, I thought payment to legislators to take specific action you want is a crime.

Anonymous said...

Why would we give a raise to Mike Cole? He should be giving the taxpayers a reimbursement check!

hater said...

Cole needs the money to entertain the interns...it's not easy partying on a legislator's salary when you're in Albany.

proud democrat said...

Larry s said...."This practice has to stop. The Water and Sewer Districts also offer lifetime health insurance". I was unaware of that. No wonder everyone wants onto those board seats. Whats the pay for that job anyway? Or is it one of those jobs that you take when you need your 3years for your retirement to take that pay hike?
Its funny everyone is always saying that this person or that person,or whoever is in the majority/minority at the time is corrupt. Lets face it. Its the system that is in place thats corrupt.

It was put into place decades ago. And I bet that it was one that passe both parties at every level. From local right on up to the top.

More poeple complain about the problems with welfare, healthcare, and unemployment. But this issue seems to go mostly unnoticed. The next time someone cracks a joke about the welfare line, tell them the asskissing state retirement line forms to the right