North Country lawmakers react to NYS Legislature pay raise

Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 5:15 PM EST
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - They’re now the highest paid lawmakers in the nation.

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, new Assemblyman Scott Gray, and new State Senator Mark Walczyk are among those in the state legislature getting $32,000 added to their salaries.

From $110,000 to $142,000. That’s a 29% raise.

Governor Kathy Hochul signed the bill Saturday and Sunday it went into law.

Lawmakers first passed the bill during a special session in late December. The vote was mostly along party lines with Democrats saying it was necessary to keep up with the cost of living.

But before the vote, then-Assemblyman Mark Walczyk debated the topic on the Assembly floor.

“None of you are going broke, the people that you represent are. You should be ashamed that you’d call a special session to bring a bill like this to the floor of the State Assembly,” said Walczyk in December.

Newly sworn in as a State Senator, his stance hasn’t budged.

In a statement to 7 News, Walczyk says “Democrats who ran for office this year lied by omission to voters about their intentions to pad their own pockets. They bring shame on themselves and the entire New York State government.”

Meanwhile, Assemblyman-elect Scott Gray did not vote on the bill as he was not in office at the time.

He will be sworn in on Tuesday. He does, however, say the bill and the timing of it is “out of touch.”

“It just fails to recognize what the average public is struggling with right now. In terms of just putting gas in their car, getting groceries, things like that. It’s a very self-centered move,” said Gray.

Also part of the bill, starting in 2025 outside income will be capped at $35,000 with the exception of payments from military service, retirement plans, or investments. Before that, there was no limit.