Shorten the legislative session to streamline state government
I’ll let you in on a secret. In some ways, New York State Legislators are sort of like people. We have mortgages to pay and families to feed. That’s why I have introduced legislation to cut our pay by more than 55 percent.
Let me explain.
Seats in the New York State Senate and Assembly are supposed to be part-time positions, filled by citizens with real jobs in the private sector who simply want to perform a public service. And at one time they were.
But in recent decades, time requirements and pay for the position have grown. We’re now in Albany from January though June, have numerous constituent meetings when we’re home, and attend civic functions virtually every night and weekend. It is awfully hard to work a full time, private job — so many legislators rely on their government salaries as a primary source of income.
To be effective, and to vote our consciences, legislators must be willing and able to walk away from politics at the drop of a hat. But when our positions require so much time that they must be our primary income source, we can’t do that. We need to pay the bills. So, being re-elected becomes the focus. Too often, that means responding to the folks with the campaign money — political leaders, party bosses, and special interests.
That’s why we need to change the job description. And the pay.
At $79,500 per year, our legislative salaries exceed those of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas combined. Is it a coincidence that those states are luring companies away from New York State? We also spend more than twice as much time in session as do most state legislatures.
I have proposed slicing in half the time we spend in Albany, and cutting our pay by nearly 60 percent. Yes, the taxpayers will save money. And yes, we will be forced to work much more efficiently — perhaps by ignoring bills that have been introduced for 15 consecutive years without success.
Remember, too, that when government meets less frequently, it restricts fewer freedoms. I have been told that more bills are introduced in the New York State Legislature than in the United States Congress. It is little wonder that our economic and individual liberties are being strangled. It is little wonder that New Yorkers are responding by fleeing the state.
But my legislation is perhaps most significant in that it will better enable legislators to work real jobs – and we’ll have to if we hope to avoid foreclosure on our homes. The legislature will rid itself of those whose most important objective is collecting a government pay check. They will be replaced by people trying to effect change.
For decades, New York has been barreling down the road of big government, driven by full time politicians. The results are clear to all. Our government will never meet the needs of regular citizens until it is run by regular citizens. My legislation would help effect precisely that.
Assemblyman Sean Hanna represents parts of Livingston, Monroe, and Ontario Counties in the 130th Assembly District.