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Court says legislature pay raises can go forward

The pay raise for state lawmakers set to take effect on Jan. 1 can move forward, a state Supreme Court judge ruled Friday as part of a broader suit challenging the legality of the salary bumps.

But the case challenging how the first legislative salary hike in 20 years was approved through a special compensation commission will continue on, with a hearing scheduled for Jan. 11.

“The plaintiffs are looking forward to having their injunction request fully heard and learning how the State justifies paying these raises,” said Cameron Macdonald, the executive director of the Government Justice Center, the fiscally conservative organization challenging the pay raises.

Lawmakers are due to receive a base pay hike from $79,500 to $110,000 effective the first day of 2019. Future salary hikes will boost pay to $120,000 and $130,000 for the Legislature.

The increases were also coupled with changes to how lawmakers are paid, including a cap on outside income for the Legislature and an end to stipends for leadership posts.

Lawmakers have railed against the stipulations, as well as the future phase ins being tied to the passage of budgets by April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year. At the same time, legislative leaders have bristled at the lack of pay reforms tied to the governor and his cabinet members.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned lawmakers that their criticism of the pay panel could provide fodder to the lawsuit, but has insisted the legality of the pay hikes will be upheld.

Read more from the New York State of Politics Blog

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