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Pols should not vote on their own pay

An open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

Allow me the opportunity to comment on your proposal to increase legislators’ salaries. It represents a conflict of interest for any legislator to vote on their own pay raise. In the past, legislation increasing the salaries for state Assembly members and state senators was passed in one legislative session and would take effect in the next session — in other words, the next elected class of officials.

Although this practice does not seem to be spelled out in law, it should be continued with one caveat. Any such proposal should be announced prior to the November general elections so voters will have an opportunity to view Assembly and state Senate candidates in light of a higher salary.

Also, I do not believe abolishing the per diem in return for a pay raise serves any useful good government purpose. The per diems serve to compensate legislators for their hotel bills and meals while in Albany and other expenses, such as gas and highway and bridge tolls to go to and from their districts.

In addition, since some members travel much greater distances than others, eliminating the per diem would unfairly financially affect those members.

A better approach would be to stop the anti-good government lulus — aka bonuses — which have been used historically by the leadership of both houses to control individual member votes. This is a practice which should be outlawed, and making this happen in exchange for a pay raise would help improve Albany.

These positions should be made full-time in exchange for any pay raise.

I hope you will consider my suggestions when submitting your proposal to the state Legislature.

Tony Avella

State Senator

(D-Bayside)

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