ALBANY — A lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany on Wednesday argues that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul were illegally given significant raises this year. The suit also seeks to undo additional pay boosts they’re slated to receive in 2020 and 2021.

On April 1, the state Assembly and Senate passed concurrent resolutions giving Cuomo a raise from $179,000 a year to $200,000 in 2019. Under the resolution, Cuomo’s pay would then increase to $225,000 in 2020 and $250,000 in 2021, conditioned upon the “timely legislative passage of the budget for the preceding year.”

Similarly, the resolution increased Hochul’s salary from $151,500 to $190,000 in 2019, and would increase her pay to $210,000 in 2020 and $220,000 in 2021, with the same caveat requiring the state budget to be passed in a timely fashion the preceding year. (The state budget is ostensibly due on March 31, the day before the start of the new fiscal year.)

The raises for the two top officials were the first the Legislature has granted for those offices in two decades.

But the Albany based-Government Justice Center, the group behind the lawsuit, argues that the raises are unconstitutional. The GJC’s executive director, Cameron Macdonald, is an attorney for the plaintiff in the matter. The lawsuit names Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose office is responsible for paying out the salaries, as the respondent. The suit argues DiNapoli’s office has illegally paid the increased salaries.

The state constitution says that the salaries of “state officers” named in the document — such as the governor and lieutenant governor – “shall not be increased or diminished during the term for which he or she shall have been elected or appointed.”

Cuomo and Hochul won re-election in November 2018. The resolution was passed in April, and granted them pay raises retroactive to Jan. 1, the day they began their new terms.

The lawsuit argues that an Assembly and Senate joint resolution that raises these salaries cannot under the constitution go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023 — after the next gubernatorial election cycle.

For the current raises to have been legal, they would have had to go into effect before Jan. 1, the suit argues.

“Regardless of any arguments that might be made for raising these salaries for the first time in 20 years, ignoring the state constitution sets a dangerous precedent and threatens the rule of law in New York,” Macdonald said in a prepared statement. “No one should be above the law, and we should expect more from the legislators and state officers who take oaths to support our constitution.”

A spokeswoman for DiNapoli’s office declined to comment.

The plaintiff actually suing DiNapoli’s office (with the GJC’s assistance) is Robert Arrigo, who leads the Saratoga County Libertarian Party.

The mission of the fiscally conservative nonprofit is to “protect taxpayers from government waste, negligence, misappropriation and other improper actions,” according to its website.

The raises for Cuomo and Hochul grew out of a 2018 legislative pay raise commission, which boosted the salaries not only for the governor and lieutenant governor, but state legislators as well. The commission, appointed by Cuomo and legislative leaders, sought to also severely limit the outside income of state legislators in the wake of several high-profile prosecutions involving conflicts posed by lawmakers’ outside jobs.

The GJC had also filed a prior lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of an unelected commission granting pay raises for the governor and members of the Legislature.

But in August, a state Supreme Court judge ruled that limiting outside income went beyond the authority granted to the commission and struck them down — while leaving the hefty raises for legislator in place.

The commission raised legislators’ salaries from $79,500 to $110,000 in January; that’s set to increase to $120,000 in 2020 and $130,000 in 2021.

The current lawsuit from the GJC does not address the legislative raises.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is jeckstrom@oleantimesherald.com.)

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