Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he won’t be taking a pay raise next year as New York state faces a massive budget deficit.
Cuomo, already the highest paid governor in the nation, is scheduled for a salary increase from $225,000 to $250,000 on Jan. 1, 2021. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who earns $210,000 a year, will be second.
The pay hike was approved in 2019, after 10 years of keeping the New York governor’s salary flat at $179,000. Cuomo’s salary rose to $200,000 that year, then increased $225,000 in 2020 and $250,000 next year. A state committee on pay recommended the raise for the governor, and the New York State Senate approved it.
But Cuomo said Wednesday that he won’t accept the upcoming $25,000 pay raise.
During a briefing on the state’s coronavirus response in Albany, Cuomo told reporters that both he and members of his cabinet will not take a raise, given the state’s budget deficit. He said he will issue an executive order to stop the salary increase.
On Monday, the state panel that evaluates salaries for Cuomo, members of the state Legislature and judges in New York recommended no raises for the next four years due to the state’s budget deficit, already $14 billion. The same Commission on Legislative, Judicial, & Executive Compensation declined to provide raises for state judges last year when the budget deficit was half what it is now.
“We understand the potential for significant budget cuts may be necessary at the state executive level as well if the federal government does not enact additional funding to address the economic hardship caused by Covid-19,” the panel wrote in a new report Monday. “Substantial additional state monies will be needed to deal with the pandemic, including providing face masks, virus tracking, contact tracing, enforcement efforts, and distribution of the hoped for new pandemic vaccine.”
“Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time.”
The panel’s decision does not invalidate the $25,000 raise for Cuomo, which is why an executive order or additional laws from state Legislature would be required to stop it.
Cuomo has spoken about the state’s budget crisis frequently, warning services may be cut and taxes may increase if Congress doesn’t pass another coronavirus relief bill with aid for states and cities affected by the pandemic. He’s already deferred pay raises for 80,000 state government employees three times this year in an attempt to prevent furloughs or layoffs.