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Some state legislators question schedule and salary

Posted at: 01/04/2013 8:42 PM
Updated at: 01/04/2013 10:28 PM
By: Lynette Adams

The New York State Legislature goes to work in Albany on Wednesday, but some are questioning the number of days they are scheduled to work versus the salary they collect.

As lawmakers prepare for this new season, there are three numbers drawing attention, 57, 59 and $79,500. The first two are the number of days senators and members of the state assembly are scheduled to show up for work in Albany. The third is their annual base salary.

Bill Reilich, 134th State Assembly District, said, “One of the reasons I went to Albany was to fight for the small business owner that have concerns and have issues.”

Bill Reilich says people he has two full time jobs. He represents the 134th State Assembly District and he's the chairman of the Monroe County Republican Committee. He takes exception to the suggestion that because the Assembly calendar shows only 59 working day that he is receiving a full time salary for a part time job.

Reilich said, “If I only went to Albany and the remainder of the year locked the doors didn't meet with anyone, didn't talk to anyone I would not be a good representative. Being part of the community and active in the going to events, and talking to people from different backgrounds allows us to vote in an informed manner.”

Reilich says he receives 250 emails everyday and dozens of phone calls. Members of the Assembly are paid $79,500 a year. More if you are a member of a committee. The state pays Per Diem when lawmakers travel to Albany and money to run a district office. Newly elected state Assemblyman Bill Nojay says it's too much money.

Bill Nojay, 133rd State Assembly, said, “I disagree that its a full time job, I think it should be part time. If you look at the states that are doing well that are growing jobs, friendly to business they have part time legislators.”
Nojay says lawmakers should have to juggle jobs and raising families or running businesses just like the people they represent.

But what to voters think? Frances Drumgoole works for the Rochester City School District, tracking down students who are truant.

Frances Drumgoole said, “I don't get paid that kind of money and I actually having to work past drug deals to try to find a student, so its just my opinion, the money can be used in a more economical way.”

But Kelli Berg says no one really knows how hard legislators work.

Kelli Berg said, “When you break it down to what they get paid a day it does seem like a little bit more, but we're not calculating in what goes on behind the scenes.”

New York ranks third of all states in yearly salary, but Reilich is quick to point out, not every state has a $132 billion budget like New York or have the number of residents. He says it's all relative.