Proposed Cap On Outside Income For NYS Legislators Is Misguided

NYS CapitolI’m all for ethics reform and understand how Sheldon Silver and others abuse power, but the recent proposal in the NY State Senate to cap outside income at $12,000 doesn’t make sense. They are missing the point. The NY State Legislature is a part-time job. They are only in session for six months each year and in some weeks they are only in Albany for two days. The system was designed for citizen-legislators. You are supposed to have outside income from a real job in the real world, and then bring that experience to your legislative duties. The salary is $79,500 and with a cap they can only make $91,500 (plus possible stipends). It’s hard to raise a family in Westchester, Nassau or Manhattan with that salary – try putting a few kids through college.

If this “reform” passes, who will run for State Senate or State Assembly? You can expect a lot of wealthy candidates who don’t need to work hard every day like the rest of us. It will close the door to middle class people and those in the private sector – the exact kind of people we need in our State Legislature. Unfortunately, we already have too many legislators in Albany who fail to grasp that New York is the highest taxed, least business friendly and most over-regulated state in the country. The actions of our state legislators have damaged job creation and economic opportunity and caused tens of millions of New Yorkers to flee our state in the past 20 years.

This “reform” is misguided, and we should hope it’s defeated, but let’s also hope they approve more thoughtful reforms that actually crack down on the corrupt schemes like those of Sheldon Silver or other legislators recently convicted of crimes.

Jim Maisano

(Jim serves as a Westchester County Legislator).

One thought on “Proposed Cap On Outside Income For NYS Legislators Is Misguided

  1. An income cap strikes me as a knee-jerk reaction rather than a well-thought out proposal. A $79,500 salary is a very respectable salary in Western New York, and one could survive on that quite well (though the costs of living/traveling to Albany could have a negative impact).

    In my experience, salary should not be a prime motivator in public office. Once it becomes about the salary, it becomes about the job, rather than the service to the community. Many not-for-profit boards are well served by knowledgeable, intelligent and capable individuals who do it out of their affection for the cause, and not for any financial remuneration.

    Of course, serving in office shouldn’t be at a personal or financial loss; the point is that it need not happen as a financial gain. If one is skilled at making money, I’d rather they share those skills and use them FOR the government, instead of ON the government.

    Real reform should focus on how the outside income is made and its relation to state government, not on the sum itself.


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