NEW YORK, NY – After facing scrutiny over a $25,000 raise set to be doled out on Jan. 1, 2021 despite the state experiencing a $63 billion budget deficit due to financial issues brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has reversed course today by promising to issue an Executive Order that will enable him to forgo the raise, according to reports.
State lawmakers had voted in 2019 to increase Cuomo’s then-salary of $200,000 to $250,000 by 2021 by way of $25,000 annual increments; he has already received his 2020 raise, currently putting his take-home pay at $225,000.
Cuomo, however, stated that he would not accept this year’s raise and would issue an Executive Order to that effect. In addition, he has also offered to do away the upcoming raises of other prominent New York lawmakers and officials, including Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. In addition, the raises of a number of agency commissioners may also be on the chopping block as well, due to COVID-19.
“I’m gonna ask them to defer their raises and not take a raise given the overall financial picture for the same rationale that we didn’t do a raise,” Cuomo said during a recent press conference. “I understand there’s a disconnect in the law, but I’m going to ask the commissioners, myself, the other elected not to take a raise this year and then I’ll do an [executive order] to that effect — because it’s the same rationale now as not giving a raise to the other people.”
Prior to Cuomo’s announcement, the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation panel had issued a decree that the state was too strapped for cash due to numerous shortfalls brought about by the pandemic to approve raises for a number of public servants, including judges and state Senators and Assembly members. Instead, the panel issued a four-year freeze on raises.
In light of that development and the ongoing financial hardship the state faces, it was only understandable that Cuomo and other high-ranking state officials continuing to get a significant pay bump would ruffle some feathers, given the state’s ongoing COVID-related unemployment issues and budget deficit.