New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation
Copy to Orange County Post
Dear Commission Members:
These past several years, New Yorkers have seen more corruption charges, indictments, and convictions of public officers than ever before. The NYS Legislature and the people of New York State have already taken some steps to restore public trust by amending our state’s constitution to allow taxpayer-funded pensions to be stripped from corrupt politicians. While this was an important step, much more is needed to truly restore the public trust.
Confirmed through the 2018-2019 state fiscal year budget, we understand that the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation will assess and potentially implement compensation adjustments to state legislators at the end of this year. Therefore, we respectfully request you take this opportunity to consider elements of compensation beyond salary adjustments and close an egregious loophole that permits some legislators to draw both a salary and pension for the same position at the same time.
Double-dipping, as it is referred to, infuriates hardworking New Yorkers – and for good reason. This loophole is afforded to state legislators aged 65 and elected before 1995. It is a practice that is employed by legislators from both political parties and in both legislative houses. Acknowledging the misconduct, the Legislature amended state law to prohibit double-dipping in 1995 but only did so prospectively.
We, as Members of the Assembly, have attempted to remedy this problem (A.1631 Skoufis), but a legislative solution has not come to fruition and does not appear likely to ever do so.
At this time, we are convinced the best way to solve this problem is through your efforts as members of the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation. As a member of the Commission, you have the authority to review all forms of compensation, including benefits and eligibility.
While we both voted against the creation of the pay commission in the 2018-2019 budget, we also view this as an opportunity for the commission to right a longstanding wrong, deliver justice to taxpayers, and finally end double-dipping in the State Legislature.
New Yorkers are thirsty for reform in government and deserve to know they can trust their state representatives. By closing this loophole, you can help us move one step closer towards restoring that trust.
We thank you for your service to New York State as well as your thoughtful consideration of this important matter.
Assembly Members Kevin Byrne, 94th District
James Skoufis 99th District