New York Daily News| June 7, 2019 | Denis Slattery
ALBANY — A commission that granted pay raises to state lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo overstepped its authority by placing a cap on outside income for legislators, a state Supreme Court judge ruled on Friday.
Justice Christina Ryba found the special compensation commission — created by the state Legislature and Cuomo in last year’s budget — went too far by restricting outside employment or income earned by members of the state Senate and Assembly.
The lawsuit, filed against the state by attorneys with the conservative Government Justice Center, claimed the committee exceeded its authority and violated open meetings laws.
Cameron Macdonald, the group’s executive director, said they may appeal the decision, challenging whether the commission had the authority at all to act on legislative and executive pay.
The panel last year approved the first pay raise for state legislators in 20 years, increasing their base pay from $79,500 to $130,000 over three years. A 20% bump went into effect this year, and the rest is scheduled to phase in by 2021.
Ryba’s decision keeps the pay raises and also left the panel’s decision to scale back leadership stipends or “lulus” to only a handful of posts intact.
The cap on outside income, meant to curb corruption and conflicts of interest, was set to take effect at the end of the year and faced intense resistance form lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
A group of Republican state legislators filed a lawsuit to overturn the ban in March.
Earlier this month, a pair of Democratic Assembly members, Phil Steck (D-Colonie) and John McDonald (D-Cohoes), filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the cap.
The Legislature is only in session from January through June.
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