The New York State Association of Counties [NYSAC] announced that it supports legislation (S.517, Young) passed by the state Senate on May 22, which would have the state reimburse local taxpayers for the recent state-mandated District Attorney salary increase. NYSAC also calls on the State Assembly to take up and pass the bill during this legislative session, where it is sponsored by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
“This state decision to increases judges’ salaries places a mandate on local taxpayers to fund the increase in DA’s salaries. These types of state mandates must stop. We appreciate the Senate’s recognition that this new unfunded state mandate must be fixed, and we call on the State Assembly to demonstrate their commitment to help local taxpayers by funding DA salary increases,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer.
State Judicial Law 183-a links judicial salaries with county district attorneys’ (DA’s) salaries, requiring DA’s salaries to be equal to or higher than either the County Court Judge or Supreme Court Judge in a county, depending on full or part-time status. On April 1, 2016 the State Legislature approved the salary raises recommended by the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation. This approval increased all state judge salaries in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
For over 50 years, since the state raised judges’ salaries and required a corresponding raise in salaries for District Attorneys (who are county officials), the state has funded the increased costs. For the second consecutive year, the enacted State Budget left out language that would require the state to pay the costs of a mandated district attorney pay increase.
The statewide cost of DA salary increases is approximately $1.6 million cost per year, which represents a small fraction of the $155 billion state budget, but a significant portion of a county’s allowable tax growth under the state-imposed property tax cap.
“DAs are entitled to the fair and just compensation pursuant to law for fulfilling the state constitutional and statutory duties related to the enforcement of the State Penal Law. However, any state mandated increase to a local government official’s salary, as a matter of equity and fairness, must be funded by the State,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.