A fiscally conservative legal watchdog group on Wednesday announced it had filed a lawsuit challenging pay raises for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The Government Justice Center in its legal challenge said the joint legislative resolution backing the pay raises for Cuomo and Hochul was unconstitutional.
At issue is the timing of when the pay raises took effect, said Cameron Macdonald, the group’s executive director.
“Section 7 of Article XIII of the New York Constitution in plain language prohibits increasing or diminishing the compensation of the governor or lieutenant governor during the term for which they are elected,” he said. “By approving retroactive raises three months into the new terms for those offices, the Legislature blatantly ignored this prohibition, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s payment of the higher salaries also violates the Constitution.”
The pay resolution boosted the governor’s pay from $179,000 to $200,000, and will eventually increase to $250,000 by 2021. The lieutenant governor’s salary was approved for a raise from $151,500 to $220,000 by 2021.
The Government Justice Center last year filed a similar legal challenge to the pay raises for state lawmakers that were approved by a commission created to recommend changes to how the Legislature and statewide elected officials are compensated.
The pay panel ultimately approved phased in pay hikes, but also capped the amount of money lawmakers can earn outside of the Legislature. A state judge earlier this year upheld the raises and rejected the outside income cap.