December 10, 2007

$79,500 for a part-time job

I wish this was a job posting - I know a lot of people would like to have $79,500 for a job that still lets them pursue other potentially lucrative possibilities, or simply relax more.

Unfortunately, though, it's more about a group of people who are already lucky enough to hold such a position but think that $79,500 (plus lulus and benefits) just isn't enough. I mean, there are all the outside opportunities, but it's always nice when base pay goes up, right?

You may have guessed that I'm talking about New York State's perpetually public-minded legislature, which recognizes somehow that the public is so impressed by the work they do that taxpayers can't wait to give them a raise. "Recognizes" may be the wrong word, of course.

The New York Times has an editorial on the sorry mess, concluding with a point that I think is worth emphasizing:

If Mr. Bruno will not reveal what he does in his private dealings, and if lawyers like Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, insist on keeping mum about outside legal work, aren't they thumbing their noses at the public? And if they and other legislators continue to hide their private work and their conflicts of interest, hasn't the time come to start thinking revolutionary thoughts, like having full-time legislators?

True, we would have to pay them more than the $79,500 they make now. But it would be worth it if they really, absolutely, finally joined judges and top state officeholders and rank-and-file state employees whose full-time job as public servants is to serve the public's interest.

The hard question, of course, is whether they would then act like full-time public servants. It would certainly simplify the hard questions around conflicts of interest and disclosure that currently raise eyebrows, especially for the leadership.

Phillip Anderson at the Albany Project would like to see more, and I'd like to see all that too. I suspect, though, that cutting off all of those outside opportunities is sufficiently scary for enough of the legislature that it would make a huge difference in how (political) business is done in New York State.

Not that I expect it to happen, of course!

Posted by simon at December 10, 2007 6:06 PM in
Note on photos