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Latimer Favors Capping Outside Income As Legislators Discuss Albany Reforms

Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, says he favors capping outside income for state legislators. Photo Credit: File photo
Assemblyman David Buchwald, far right, in Harrison on Wednesday evening with veterans and Byram Hills youngsters. The White Plains Democrat says he treats his state legislature job as "full time." Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated.

RYE, N.Y. -- The arrest of former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last month has renewed talk about making the state legislature a full-time job or restricting legislators' outside income.

Details on the latest discussion can be found here:

State Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, said he supports a cap of 15 percent of gross salary for outside income with full reporting of clients and interests represented to ensure transparency.

State Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-White Plains, favors the concept of a full-time legislature.

"I treat my job as full-time already, because I think the constituents of my State Assembly District deserve my undivided attention,'' Buchwald said Thursday.

Each of the state's 213 legislators are paid a base annual salary of $79,500, plus stipends for chairing committees and $171 expenses for every day they are in Albany for business.

Latimer suggested that an independent commission be created to review legislative compensation once every four years to determine if an adjustment is warranted.

"I earn no outside income,'' Latimer said.

The senator explained that the current structure of the legislative session, meeting six months a year, half a week every week, makes it impossible for non-lawyers serving in the Senate or Assembly to work in any traditional day job. Lawyers can bill services by the hour; most other jobs do not function that way.

Latimer has proposed a shorter session structure which he said "would keep us as 'part timers,' but allow more time for us to earn the income necessary to support families."

"As a former City Councilman and County Legislator, I was able to work in my career, fulfill legislative duties and avoid ethical conflicts,'' Latimer said. "It can be done in Albany, too."

"So many competing proposals each nuanced differently. It will take dialogue before we can agree on a single plan,'' Latimer said Thursday.

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