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New York State Commission on Legislative

County leaders statewide call on the State to reimburse counties for district attorney salary increase

By Billie Owens
Press release:
On behalf of the state's 57 counties, the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) has called on the State Legislature to pass a chapter amendment to the 2016-17 State Budget that would require the state to pay the costs with mandated district attorney pay increase.
"This is a quintessential state mandate. The state raised the salary of an elected county official and they are making local taxpayers fund it," said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County treasurer. 
On Dec. 24,  the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation voted to recommend increasing all state judge salaries in 2016 and 2018. The recommended increase placed Supreme Court judges' salaries at $193,000 in 2016 and $203,000 in 2018 and placed County Court Judges at 95 percent of a Supreme Court Justice's salary. On April 1st the State approved the Commission's recommendation.
State Judicial Law 183-a links judicial salaries with county district attorneys' (DA's) salaries, requiring DA's salaries to be equal or higher than either the County Court Judge or Supreme Court Judge in a county, depending on full or part-time status.
"This is unprecedented," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. "For over 50 years, the state has paid for every DA salary increase mandated on counties. It has always been a fundamental issue of fairness. The state has historically funded these salary increases through the state budget."
On April 1, the State adopted a budget that is more than $150 billion statewide, but did not include the approximately $1.6 million for counties to fund the DA salary increases. Interestingly, the state also did not include a general fund allocation for the judges' salaries, forcing those raises to come out of the Judiciary budget.  
The raise will cost each county approximately $30,000 in funds not allocated from their 2016 county budgets -- a cost of approximately a third of their total allowable property tax cap growth for all government operations in 2016.
"This was an unintended consequence of the demands of meeting an on-time budget, and it can be fixed with a simple chapter amendment that can be passed when lawmakers return in May," Cherry said.

Hawley introduces bill to make state reimburse counties for district attorneys' mandated pay raises

By Billie Owens

Press release:

On Friday Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I- Batavia) announced he will introduce legislation to immediately lift a mandate on counties and provide relief for local taxpayers.

In 2015, the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial & Executive Compensation recommended increases in all county district attorneys’ salaries in 2016, and again in 2018. As a result, counties are mandated to pick up the cost, a burden placed directly on taxpayers.

“Our hard-working district attorneys deserve this recognition, the invaluable work that they provide make our communities safer and better places to live,” Hawley said. “Mandating that counties pick up this cost, however, is a direct burden on our middle-class families and I’m glad my bill will provide the proper compensation for our public servants while also protecting the hard-earned money of our taxpayers.”

Hawley’s legislation will require that counties be reimbursed by the state for the entire cost of these increases, including any future increases to district attorney salaries.

“The estimated cost of these salary increases is $1.6 million statewide for 2016. Another increase in 2018 could result in an even greater burden on taxpayers,” Hawley said.

“That’s why this legislation is so important. It provides proper compensation for our district attorneys and protects counties and taxpayers from bearing any further burdens in the already tough economic climate of New York.”

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