ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Just in time for the holidays. State lawmakers are granting themselves a gift in the shape of a $32,000 raise. The bill passed in both houses on Thursday. Currently, lawmakers are at a base pay of $110,000. The pay increase will make New York lawmakers the highest paid in the nation. 

But with inflation at an all-time high and New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet, some are wondering, why now? Senate Majority Leader, Andrea-Stewart Cousins, who sponsors the bill weighed in: “We have tried to, continue to address the affordability and housing, education in every way and we will continue to do that. So it’s not that we’re unconscious about what people are experiencing, we will continue to focus on it as we have,” she said.

There is currently no cap on outside income for lawmakers, but this bill would cap it at $35,000. Could we see some turnover with lawmakers who do have outside jobs? “Well possibly, and that’s why we made that part of it effective two years from now, because people could have run with the old understanding that they would be able to make unlimited outside income and now with this legislation you will not be able to do it,” said the Leader.

Tevin Williams is part of NYS Legislative Workers United and a staffer for Senator Brad Hoylman. Williams says the pay raise doesn’t bother him, and the legislature can expect to see a proposal for a salary increase for staffers this session. “I do know we have some people in constituent services who are making $32,000 which how do you live in New York City with that? And so that was the initial conversation of how do we organize and bring the solidarity for some offices who have baseline constituent services, people who make 70 and some people who are clearly making 32?” said Williams.

Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh said the Legislature shouldn’t be able to vote on their own pay raise. “Our conference did try to offer a hostile amendment to the Bill in Chief, which would have said ‘lets put this up to a vote with the voters, let the taxpayers decide if they wanna spend several more million dollars to pay legislators more and that was defeated,'” said Walsh. The provision will take effect in 2025.Reporting in Albany, Amal tlaige.