Brooklyn senator slammed over raise request
James T. Madore, Newsday
ALBANY - Lawmakers, who earn a base salary of $79,500, aren't eligible for welfare as Sen. Eric Adams suggested in his impassioned plea for a raise - unless they have dozens of children, officials said Friday.
Senators and Assembly members haven't received a wage boost since 1999, but their pay remains far above the poverty level. A couple living in Suffolk County with the same income, for example, would need 79 kids to be eligible for public assistance, said the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, which administers welfare.
Adams, a freshman Democrat from Brooklyn, caused a stir Thursday by equating lawmakers' salaries to those of the working poor in a debate about increasing judges' pay.
"I don't know how some of you are living, to tell you the truth, on $79,000. You qualify for public assistance," he said. "I deserve to be paid more. ... Show me the money! Show me the money!"
The New York State Republican Committee was quick to publicize Adams' remarks, which he defended Friday.
In an interview, Adams said asking for a raise "was as American as apple pie." He said the comparison to welfare wasn't meant to be taken literally.
New York has a part-time legislature whose members' pay is the nation's third-highest.