New York State Exposed: Are state lawmakers giving you your money's worth?

Posted at: 10/01/2013 5:55 AM
Updated at: 10/01/2013 6:14 PM
By: Scott Kilbury

There are tens of thousands of state lawmakers across the nation and more than the majority of them receive less than legislators in New York. That's tens of thousands of taxpayers' dollars footing the bill for, for what some are saying, is a part time job.

News10NBC's Scott Kilbury asked, “Would you be surprised if I told you they make 80,000 base salary? Do you think that's fair, are you getting your money's worth?"  

Amina Ptah said, "Absolutely not.  No, it's not right, they make way too much."

Do you agree? Is nearly $80,000 too much for a state lawmaker in New York? And, it's only for 60 to 65 days a year when they're in full session.  Most of us work more than 240 days a year.

Here's how New York stacks up when comparing lawmaker salaries across the country. Our legislators make more than their counter parts in 47 other states. Only California and Pennsylvania pay more. In some states, lawmakers earn less than $10,000. Did you know that New Mexico doesn't even pay its lawmakers? 

David Fiedler said, "I don't think I go to a single event where Senator Joe Robach is not there."

Senator Joe Robach says he may only be in session for half the year, but it's a full time job.

Senator Joe Robach said, "I put a lot of time in.  I'm busy when I'm here.  But I like it. It's an honor and privilege and labor of love to do it.  I don't mind it."

The $80,000 base salaries don't include cash bonuses for additional roles on committees.

Voters says they're not getting the results they would like with all that taxpayer money being handed out.

Right now, 12 lawmakers are collecting pensions on top of being paid to serve on the legislature.

Assemblyman David Gantt said, “I'm not going to apologize for my pension, I earned it. I could have started taking it when I was 55, but waited until I was 69.”

Rochester Assemblyman David Gantt is among the double-dipping dozen. In addition to his $93,000 salary, he receives a $71,000 pension, a total of $164,000 a year.

Gantt said, “I have my pension. That's not the issue. While we're at it,  most of my pension goes to scholarships to poor kids in the city. I give 20,000 and I give away another $10,000 to $12,000 to local churches. I grew up as a poor kid in poverty.  I'm living pretty well at this stage of the game.”

Because of a loophole that has since been closed, Gantt is one of a pension, on top of his salary, for the same job. 


State lawmakers haven't received a pay raise since 1998.  There was a push a couple of years ago for a pay increase to $100,000 a year, but that largely evaporated amid Superstorm Sandy.

For more information on legislative salaries:

Empire Center: Legislative Salaries by State

National Conference of State Legislatures 

Additional money for certain roles: 

Base salaries also don't include various cash bonuses Assembly members receive for fulfilling certain additional roles. The minority whip of the Senate, Jose Peralta, for instance, gets paid an additional $14,500 for that role. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, John DeFrancisco, gets an added $34,000. Former State Democratic Chairman Herman "Denny" Farrell, 78, is eligible for a pension worth a projected $108,000 over his $113,500 salary as Assembly Ways and Means Chairman, the largest haul of the 12 lawmakers collecting their pensions while serving on the legislature.

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