The coronavirus pandemic has scuttled the chances of statewide elected officials, state judges and the 213 members of the state Legislature receiving pay raises in 2021, a salary commission on Monday determined.
The commission's report is not wholly surprising; state officials had previously signaled the planed pay raises were unlikely to take effect at the turn of the year. Pay raises for top-ranking New York officials were due to be phased in, but a commission was empowered to consider the state's economic climate.
In short, the economic climate is not good. The pay commission's report put into writing the budgetary concerns New York is facing due to the coronavirus pandemic, concluding the economic stress caused by the crisis makes pay increases unfeasible.
"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 its report.
"In addition, 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. Simply put the commissioners’ worst fears as articulated in the 2019 Report – a downturn in the state’s finances coupled with an inability to cover increased salary obligations – has unfortunately come to stark reality in the worst possible way. Granting raises to public servants, no matter how much they might otherwise deserve them, is simply not possible at this time."
The commission is composed of appointees of the chief judge of New York, the state Senate, Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.