Why Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Massive Pay Raise Won't Be Happening

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Posted: Nov 18, 2020 11:10 PM
Why Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Massive Pay Raise Won't Be Happening

Source: AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was scheduled to receive a $25,000 pay raise beginning January 1. His salary would jump from $225,000 to $250,000 a year, making him the highest-paid governor in the nation, the New York Post reported. The worst part is all of this was done as the state faces a $63 billion budget deficit due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.

What's amazing is the Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation agreed to Cuomo's pay raise but said no to the 213 legislators that make up the state Senate and Assembly, as well as state judges. Their reasoning: the pandemic.

"We understand the potential for significant budget cuts may be necessary at the state executive level as well if the federal government does not enact additional funding to address the economic hardship caused by COVID-19," the commission stated in a memo released on Monday. "Substantial additional state monies will be needed to deal with the pandemic, including providing face masks, virus tracking, contact tracing, enforcement efforts, and distribution of the hoped for new pandemic vaccine."

"Simply put the commissioners' worst fears as articulated in the 2019 Report – a downturn in the state's finances coupled with an inability to cover increased salary obligations – has unfortunately come to stark reality in the worst possible way," they explained, citing a similar reason not to provide state Supreme Court judges with pay raises last year. At the time, New York was only in a $6 billion deficit, roughly one-tenth of what it currently is.

"Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time," the memo stated.

Conservatives were quick to call out the irony:

After receiving flack for the pay raise, Cuomo said he would put the increase on hold, New York Daily News reported.

"I am going to ask the commissioners, myself, the other electeds, not to take a raise this year,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday. "I'm going to ask them to defer their raises and not take a raise, given the overall financial picture."