How many times have you heard that, and what's your reaction when you do? Do you cringe, like I do?
I just heard it again the other day, while watching Capital Tonight, the show devoted to all things NY politics brought to us courtesy of YNN, Time Warner's news station. The discussion centered on whether or not it was time that New York's legislators, as well as other folks in state government, deserve a raise.
It's been 13 or 14 years for the Legislature, according to published reports, which I admit is a long time to go without a pay increase, even when you're making $79,500 plus a $170 per diem for days spent in Albany, plus an additional $10,000 - $40,000 for 'leadership' roles, which most of them receive - all for a part-time job that they volunteer for.
Now don't get me wrong, I know that trying to decide the direction and fate of the Empire State's 19,000,000 or so people can be hard work; and if I were working for the same money now that I was making 14 years ago, I'd be pretty annoyed too. The part-time job of a legislator is pretty lucrative, compared to other legislatures (and compared to many New York families), and in these difficult economic times, it's hard to want to give them a raise for any reason.
But what really gets me is this whole concept of 'attracting and retaining good people'. What does that really mean?
- Are our current legislators not 'good people'?
- Would they all leave, and make room for really 'good people' if we raised their pay?
- Would we be able to get real campaign finance reform and real ethics reform, from the new 'good people'?
- Would the new 'good people' do something about mandate relief and the buck-passing down the legislative line to counties, cities, towns and villages?
- Hopefully they'd stop sending me mail telling me how wonderful they are -- because of course, they're 'good people' so that goes without saying, right?
What do you think?