Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he “would not even consider” supporting a pay raise for state legislators unless the body passed the “people’s agenda”—specifically some of the governor’s priorities that did not pass last session.
Cuomo said lawmakers would not come back to Albany early in order to pass a legislative pay raise. If there were a special session, Cuomo told reporters after the graduation ceremony for new state troopers, it would be so the Legislature could consider increasing the state minimum wage and decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
“We have a legislative agenda that did not get passed, which is the priority for me,” Cuomo said. “And if there is an opportunity for the Legislature to act, I’m going to be looking for them to act on the people’s agenda. I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise. I am intersted in the people’s agenda, and that’s what the session would be about.”
Cuomo said New Yorkers need a raise in the minimum wage. Democratic lawmakers this year sought to raise the wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour. The measure stalled in the Republican-led Senate, and Cuomo didn’t push for it.
He also said he wants lawmakers to look into “ending the injustices on stop and frisk.” He’s referring to a New York City policy that allows police officers to stop citizens and ask them to empty their pockets. These stop-and-frisks sometimes lead to arrests for low-level marijuana possession, a crime that Cuomo has said can stain young people’s permanent records for life, making it difficult for them to find employment. Cuomo wants to decrease a low-level possession charge from a misdemeanor to a violation. The Senate refused to consider it.
“There would not be a special session about pay raise,” Cuomo continued. “The people’s business is unfinished from the past legislative session, right? We have certain reforms that we needed passed that we didn’t get to.
“We have a legislative agenda that did not get passed, which is the priority for me,” he said. “And if there is an opportunity for the Legislature to act, I’m going to be looking for them to act on the people’s agenda,” he said. “I understand they may have an interest in a pay raise…. I understand what they want, but I am more interested in what the people want.”
Cuomo said the good news is that there are no budget-related issues that would need to be addressed during a special session.
The governor said if legislators want more money, they have to earn it.
“I would not consider a legislative pay raise unless—I would not even consider, even consider a pay raise unless the people’s business was being done in a thorough, responsible way,” he said. “Right? Because the concept of the pay raise is, well, the Legislature has really done a good job, and they haven’t gotten a pay raise in a long time. But the premise is, they’re preforming well.
“Then they would have to perform well,” he continued. “And to perform well, in my book, means doing the people’s business.”