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Raia Wants $179K Salary Cap for All State Employees

He is calling on no state salary to be higher than Governor Cuomo's.

, R,I,C-East Northport, is calling for the salaries of all state-government employees to be capped.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports a salary limit per school superintendent based on enrollment numbers, with the highest amount being $175,000.

Currently, 223, or 33 percent of school district superintendents earn more than $175,000.

Northport-East Northport School District Superintendent Marylou McDermott's compensation was $248,401 in the 2009-10 school year. Elwood Superintendent Peter C. Scordo's compensation package for 2009-10 included a salary of $192,000 along with an allotment for sick and personal days, holidays and vacation time.

While 33 percent of school superintendents make over $179,000 annually, they aren’t the only problem in New York, he said.

Raia announced Monday that he wants to extend the cap to all those employed by New York State.

“Employees of the MTA and other bloated state agencies routinely make well over $179,000, which is the yearly salary for the governor,” said Raia.

“I find it hard to believe that any government employee can argue that they have a tougher job than the governor of the state of New York."

Jerry Hannon March 01, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Assemblyman Raia must either be seriously over-tired, or simply delusional. His comment, if properly reported, suggests that he knows nothing about the cost structure of the budget for a school district, as that one category of superintendent's compensation represents about one-half of one percent of a typical school district's budget. Furthermore, if he is only talking about the wages of administrators and teachers at the higher end of their scales, he would barely make a dent in the budget. Additionally, Mr. Raia's idea would lead to a dumbing down of the senior administrators of school districts, many of whom -- being senior in their careers and eligible for retirement -- would simply opt to retire. Oh goody, Mr. Raia would then cause school districts to lose experienced administrators and force them to go out and hire some who would be much less than optimal (I'm being generous, here) in their new positions. And, by the way Mr. Raia, with a father who came from upstate, and a daughter who graduated from the western-most college in the State University of New York system, I seem to be familiar with the substantial cost of living differences between upstate and western New York versus Long Island, and I guess you have never had conversations with your Albany colleagues, representing those areas, to learn something about that fact. Your one-size-fits-all math is an abyssmal failure. Let me know when you want to address all salaries, as well as unfunded mandates.
paul caplan March 01, 2011 at 01:22 PM
In the last ten years the Elwood School District has not added any significant courses academically, culturally or athletically, yet the school taxes have risen 81%. This increase is primarily due to compensation to its employees. Although Mr. Hannon feels that Administration salaries are exempt from any discussions, he is adamant about teachers salaries being too high. Any adjustments must begin at the top. How is an employee expected to take a freeze or cut in pay when their bosses are not?Unfortunately, since Mr. Scordo has been hired he has admittently said that the majority of his time and efforts have been dedicated to fiscal issues and not the educational expertise he was hired for. It is not about the % of budget that Administators recieve but the overall cost to the district for the monies we now spend for the services we recieve. Paul Caplan
Amy Waldhauer March 01, 2011 at 02:12 PM
As we have seen in Wisconsin, medical costs have skyrocketed in the past ten years, and they continue to skyrocket. In addition, the teachers' pensions were not funded properly and we suddenly had to make up the shortfall through taxes. We made a promise to the teachers that they would receive medical insurance and a pension, a promise that we cannot break. Mr. Caplan makes a good point about administrators needing to take the same freezes or cuts as the rest of the employees, but we are paying much more than just salaries. We need to think seriously about that.
bryan March 01, 2011 at 04:07 PM
RAIA IS RIGHT!! Enough with these inflated saleries....get a sales job and bring in direct cash if you want to make the big bucks. Jerry Hannon is a cry baby....The gravy train is over for the penny pinching teachers and supervisors of the teachers...Get a clue..We cant keep paying for these idiots to get raises every year
Dan Ciccone March 01, 2011 at 04:14 PM
I remember when Subway rides used to be a dime and gas was $.23 per gallon (and I am not a senior citizen), so what is your point Mr. Caplan - that things cost more than they used to? The last time I looked, America still had a free market economy. Jobs that require people with unique skills and experience, especially people in short supply and great demand, garner high compensation. That’s America – thank God! More to the original point of this article: assemblyman and senators who are paid $90,000 to $115,000 per year in wages and stipends for a part-time job should walk a mile in a school superintendent’s shoes before making such obtuse recommendations. Often a business model that once worked becomes unsustainable and it is necessary to revise your thinking for the good of the company, or for the good of your mission before you implode. Does the system need reform – Absolutely! But the sound bites that are coming out of Albany are meant to raise the ire of the frustrated taxpayer and lead you to believe that teachers and especially school administrators are to blame for your economic pain. These types of assertions by the Governor and now Mr. Raia are little more than a deflection of blame for a system that has grown and evolved into a bad business model. A system that was created in Albany over the past several decades. Unless you are going to fund the education of our children Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Raia, you need to stay out of our business.
Jerry Hannon March 01, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Mr. Caplan is trying to put words in my mouth, instead of focusing upon what I actually said. I would take nothing off the table, regarding salary and benefits for any employees -- and that means administrators too, as superintendents are administrators -- of school districts as well as other employees of municipal government entities in NY State, but when politicians resort to hype and smoke and mirrors, in attempts to divert us from the reality of the Albany-caused problems, I will not hesitate to call them on that. Albany created the pension mess. Albany gives school districts mandates, and then does not provide the funding, or at best provides inadequate funding, for those mandates. Albany ties the hands, by law or by regulation, of school districts in dealing with their employees. Moreover, when there is a failure, by politicians or citizens, to recognize that there are substantial -- not marginal, substantial -- differences in the cost of living between Long Island versus upstate NY and western NY, and when they then suggest a one-size/one-salary "solution" for superintendent compensation anywhere, then I will call them on that. Mr. Caplan conveniently ignores those facts, and then takes unsubstantiated cheap shots at the course array of our own high school, yet then ignores the record of continuous improvements by Glenn graduates as witnessed in the data from the State "report cards" for the 2009/10 school year, as recently published in Newsday,
Sam March 01, 2011 at 09:35 PM
What the elwood school district, their school board and Mr. Scordo have on their hands is a $56Million budget, half of which is spent on salaries - Governor Cuomo's budget is in the $130Billion range. This proposal by the governor and Andrew Raia is exactly what we need. The school board doesn't have what it takes to control salaries and spending - I do beleive Scordo's salary is currently at $190,000 with mandatory 20% raises for the next several years. Putting Tax Caps and Salary Caps on the table is exactly what we need to move the discussion forward about mandate relief. The idea that New York would experience some type of "brain drain" if we limited salaries to $179,000 is absolutely ridiculous. Whether you live upstate, in nyc or on Long Island. $179,000 goes a very long way and the cost of living throughout New York doesn't vary by more than 20K. All I have read here is criticisms - absent of any profound ideas. The school boards and all of their lackies constantly beat the drum of their hands being tied and "what about the children". Get a clue - you set the budget, you "negotiate the salaries", and you are everybit as responsible. There are hundreds of people - in just the public school system (see Newsdays information related to Cuomos porposed cap) that are making more than the Governor - we have a serious problem. It is about time that someone stood up on behalf of Long Island's families and the tax payer instead.
Max March 01, 2011 at 09:47 PM
No. Mr. Caplan has hit the nail right on the head. All meaningful reforms must start at the top and work their way down. This is a great proposal and why is there so much arguing whether 179K a year is enough? I've never seen someone who makes that salary panhandling or arguing for government assistance. If my child can grow up to make 179K a year I will be much closer to hugging and kissing her boss than cursing their name. Do you like how high the tax burden is in NY?
Free 2B Me March 02, 2011 at 02:20 AM
It seems that the politicians are lining us up for class war as opposed to real solutions. Those without choose schadenfreude over math and logic. Okay... lets pretend we reduce the Superintendents salary by $100K, where are you going to find the millions needed to make up the budget gap in the District? So, now that we are pretending, let your inner schadenfreude out, and how are you going to solve the real problems. Oh, let's freeze teacher wages... how? the law prevents municipalities from strong armed negotiations and if the unit opts out of the agreement, than the Triborough law will just perpetuate the old agreement. That is why other Governors are attempting tactics other than tax caps. ... oh, and please... if someone else raises the point that most of the district budget is salaries, I may need to vomit on your shoes. Of course it is salaries, education is a service business. If the majority of money was on text books, would you feel better? Maybe we need a cap on text books... yup, that's it.... I hear publishers make more than the Governor and God knows the Governor is way more important. Mr. Raia, please cap the cost of text books at $14.99 so we can continue to pay ludacris sums into out-of-control pensions. Oh, and Paul, Bryan, Sam, and Max... Sorry to convolute your great thoughts with facts. Regards F2bM
Bernadette Marie McCoy March 02, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Sam complains that half of the Elwood school district budget is for salaries. Only half? The business of a school district is the education of its children. This requires a specialized personnel commonly known as teachers. The schools are not simply baby sitting centers, Sam. Teachers have to be certified, which means a prior investment in their own education. We are willing to shell out obscene amounts for sports stadiums and salaries for an entertainmnet business that is seasonal at best. Part of the funding of stadiums comes out of our taxes. Has anyone complained about that lately? You need to re-order your priorities.
Dan Ciccone March 02, 2011 at 04:06 AM
Is the Governor really standing up for the taxpayer, or is telling you something you want to hear without giving you the full story or providing you with any indications of the consequences of his proposed actions. Quality education is in great demand, and does not come cheaply. Local school boards are merely trying to supply students with a competitive K-12 education and want to prepare children for a competitive post-secondary education and a 21st Century work force. If you are opposed to that than we have nothing much to discuss or debate, but if you also want to educate children to have more opportunity and success than the previous generation, then we can talk about the prudent reforms and higher levels of accountability which will provide us with a greater return on investment. And yes, I see school taxes in a system with greater accountability as an investment in our future. Furthermore, education is a service business, so of course the majority of the costs to run this business will be in human resources. This is not a manufacturing plant, there is no cost of goods sold, no great need for raw materials or commodities. The investment must be in the people that provide the services to the children and the administrators that manage the business appropriately. So to complain that more than half of the cost of running schools is in salaries shows a real lack of comprehensive thinking on the issues.
Dan Ciccone March 02, 2011 at 04:15 AM
No, of course not... Who wants to pay more taxes, no one! However, when someone in Albany tells people in Elwood, or Northport, or Half Hollow Hills, or Haborfields, Etc. how much a local school district can pay their school employees, and create a one-size-fits all legislation to education, we a walking on a very slippery slope.
paul caplan March 02, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Paul Caplan Obviously this is a much debatable subject. We are all concerned about the continued quality education that needs to be provided to our students as it has been for years. The debate is how much will it cost to maintain this service.It is understood that costs have increased, however all costs have increased, putting a burden on all homeowners to make decisions on how best to spend their money.For every dollar spent on property taxes is one less dollar spent on our economy which is the driving force behind all incomes.We are struggling with this balancing act. As we look for value with our personal expenses, we are asking why is the cost of education so expensive? "Albany" is not a dictator.It is our elected officials [people like us] trying to utilize our tax dollars for the many services we expect. It is up tp us to express our needs to the people who are making these decisions for us. Contact your state representatives. Senatore John Flanagan, Chairman of Education Dept. 631-361-2154, Senatore Carl Marcellino 1-516-922-1811, Assemblyman Andrew Raia 631-261-4151. It is also suggested to attend district workshops and board meetings to best understand these issues and express your opinions with your community.
Jerry Hannon March 02, 2011 at 04:41 PM
There is no doubt that costs have gotten out of control, and that serious changes are needed. But we have to deal, first, with the problems that were created for school districts & other local government entities by the people we sent to represent us in Albany. The solution is not to simply throw more money at these State-imposed problems, but to have Albany release local governments & school districts, from mandates that Albany doesn't pay for, and from restrictions on districts being able to deal with all classes of employees, freely but fairly. Pensions & other benefits need reform. The problem we're witnessing is that Albany, first with Cuomo & then Raia, has been kicking the can down the road, throwing up Red Herrings & Straw-Men in efforts to deflect criticism from the Governor and the Legislature. They also have come up with mindless drivel like acting as if all of NY State has the same cost of living; that is what a one-size-fits-all cap would mean. Instead of tackling the need for massive consolidation of districts across NY (124 districts in Nassau & Suffolk alone), which would dramatically lower administrative costs, they act as if setting an artificial cap on superintendent salaries (again, "one-size-fits-all" drivel) is the solution. When I see politicians getting honest with us, and demonstrating that they understand economies of scale & cost differences between regions, and when I see them acting to remove past burdens they imposed, I will feel better.
Dan Ciccone March 02, 2011 at 06:15 PM
You concerns are definitely valid and I do understand where you are coming from; however, I would ask that you think about the following comment that you made: “For every dollar spent on property taxes is one less dollar spent on our economy which is the driving force behind all incomes” You seem to be making a assertion here, or an assumption, that the services paid for by taxes have no affect on the economy. My contention to you is this: 1. Providing children with a globally competitive 21st Century education is likely to be the most effective investment we could make in our economy, so the value of this education should not be diminished. 2. As the saying goes, “Wasteful spending in education is every service my neighbor’s kid gets that mine does not…” We all need to do some soul searching to make sure that this is not our mantra; because if it is we have strayed way of course. 3. I believe your contention is that if we reallocate the expense of property taxes and instead re-invigorate the economy via more spending into the private sector, that we will create more jobs. However, if the result of trying to create jobs in the private sector means laying off thousands of teachers Statewide, how is that expected to boost the economy. Do you not think that this could actually have a greater negative impact on the economy?
Bernadette Marie McCoy March 02, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Mr. Raia's rationale for the salary cap is that no one (presumably on the public payroll) should earn more than the Governor because no job is harder than his. Using that criterion, I would think that the trash collectors who come in the wee hours of the morning to haul away mounds of trash have a physically more demanding job. How is the difficulty of a job measured? And should pay be based on energy expended? Mr. Raia should try teaching a class of undisciplined kids or severely handicapped children for a term of two. Yet the difficulty of their assignment has nothing to do with what these teachers are paid. Then there's Mayor Bloomberg, who, I believe, takes a low, nominal salary. His job is probably as difficult as the Governor's. Raia needs to think things through more carefully. And BTW, how does laying off (taxpaying) teachers improve the job situation or increase tax revenue. The inherent contradictions are mind boggling.
Jerry Hannon March 03, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Thanks for that link, Kim. I had no idea how high on the pay scale were NY legislators, until looking at that. The only thing that should make anyone gag was the size of the California pay level, but I wonder if that could be for a full-time job. Does anyone know? For a part-time job, NY's legislators are clearly paid quite handsomely. Frankly, maybe they should be as public-service minded as trustees of school boards, who are paid absolutely nothing for what they do, which is normally a thankless job with agonizing and wrenching decisions a regular part of their lives. BOE trustees usually also don't have the supreme egos that we sometimes find with some members of the Assembly or State Senate. By the way, has anyone ever tried to calculate the value of the free use of the Governor's Mansion, or the use of State aircraft, or State vehicles?
kristen March 03, 2011 at 06:08 AM
I was just interested where Kim got this idea that NY Assemblymen do this as a part time gig? Does she know of side jobs that the Assembly members (including assemblyman Raia) are collecting from while holding countless meetings with constituents that they do indeed care for immensely regardless if they voted for them or not, and making multiple trips to and from Albany? Although many may think that all lawmakers are millionaires (like Bloomberg, which is why he takes a low nominal salary) many are not, they are simply men and women who care for the best interest of their community, which they live in and pay taxes to just the same as you. Perhaps some assemblymen do do this as a part time job but I can be sure that if Kim did as much investigation into what exactly these people are doing and how many secondary jobs they have as she does into finding out the "bad things" the are doing she would be surprised to see that most of them devote countless hours of their lives to simply serving their community and nothing else.
NPTPete March 03, 2011 at 06:11 AM
Jerry that is the most hypocritical thing that I may have heard in quite some time. One day you're griping about cost of living difference and the next you're throwing that out of the window. I'm confused as to how exactly being an Assemblyman is a part-time job. Is it because there is no punch clock? Is being a teacher a part-time job - and since we all love links judging by this information then we are all being duped by teachers http://www.utnen.com/images/Did_you_know_this_about_The_United_Teacher_of_Northport..pdf. I strongly encourage anyone who thinks that they can only spend some of their time, and presumably whatever time they want that to be, to go ahead and be an elected official and enjoy the best part-time job you could ever have. Vote out the people you don't want, win that race and then just kick back and do nothing - that's how you stay in a job that's paid by the state right? People we need to get real. Is Andrew Raia's proposal perfect - No. Can it be made better? Yes. But this seems like a good starting point and a good way to get ideas flowing. Everyone knows mandate relief will go such a long way and if Shelly Silver wasn't too busy being the most powerful man in New York maybe we would see some relief. Is there really disagreement as to the fact that the salaries of too many people on public payroll has simply gone out of control?
NPTPete March 03, 2011 at 06:13 AM
Seethroughny.net all the information on the salaries expenditure and pensions and a whole lot more for all of new york at every level. look and you might be surprised with what you see. I must warn you - If you read you're views may change and you may judge.
Maria T March 03, 2011 at 01:13 PM
I totally agree Pete - the salaries, benefits and pensions are way out of control and this comes from someone on the receiving end! My husband is self employed and the annual cost for our medical benefits was skyrocketing a few years back so I came to work in the public sector "for the benefits". I am almost embarressed at the little bit I contribute monthly for these fabulous benefits for my entire family not to mention when I am ready to retire, there will be a nice pension in place. I am at the much lower end of the pay scale and would still be more than willing to contribute more toward my benefits. The security is great but the sense of entitlement is unmistakable amongst many in the public sector. Those employees making 80, 90 or $100,000 should be embarassed at what they get in benefits and perks for what they do and the time put in. I was also appalled at the fact that the union president's salary is paid through the school district and it's taxpayers. Great link by the way (thanks NPTPete) which everyone taxpayer in this community should be reading: http://www.utnen.com/images/Did_you_know_this_about_The_United_Teacher_of_Northport..pdf Government and public employees should have salary caps - kudos to you Mr Raia and every other person who represents us and believes this is the case. As strong as the unions are, they are still the minority. Taxpayers are the majority and are ready for reform.
Jerry Hannon March 03, 2011 at 04:53 PM
First of all, "NPTPete," I use my own name; what is yours? Second, when you throw out the phrase "...that is the most hypocritical thing that I may have heard in quite some time," it's like like lobbing a bomb into a crowd rather than using a sniper rifle. I was talking about the duplicity of the Governor and some State legislators & about the lunacy of their proposal for the same salary cap for school district senior administrators, without considering the reality of substantial differences in costs between LI and upstate & western NY. I don't know what hours the P/T legislators put in, and I don't know about the relative professional skills of each legislator might be nor what they could reasonably be hired to do in the private sector, but I do know the hours that our superintendent puts in, and they are "ugly." I took early retirement as a banking executive because the 70 to 80 hour work weeks (and the ever-ratcheting-upwards stress) were, rather literally, beginning to kill me. I was paid no more whether I worked additionally from home at night for conference calls to Asia (which I did), and on weekends to prepare for the coming week (which I did), nor did I get paid extra to compensate my family for the many weekends I was away on business trips overseas. So, when you suggest that State legislators do more than a part-time job, I will tell you that private sector professionals, and good superintendents, do much more than a full-time job.
Free 2B Me March 03, 2011 at 05:30 PM
A cap does not solve the problem. Skiming the oil from the surface of Gulf did not solve the leak. Jerry H's comments address the problem. Kudos... a long term solution. Caps perpetuate the problem... NOT GOOD. Caps will lower your taxes, ravage your schools, crush your home value, and limit a quality education to those who can afford private schooling. NPPete... I'm going to bet that you support the efforts of the Governor in Wisconsin. Has he proposed any caps... not at all, he is making proposals for pension and benefit reform as well as much needed change to collective bargaining. Those solutions will keep your tax rate down AND provide for quality education. NPTPete you call Raia's proposal "perfect." What do you project will be the cost of supporting pensions over the years? "Perfect"... bahahahahahahahahaha... a $15 million short term solution to a multi billion dollar budget gap and a trillion dollar legacy problem. Everyone agrees that runaway tax obligations are the problem... Everyone here who has commented agrees on that problem. Caps are not a solution, not even a good start. Jerry has not brought envy, anger, or the need to be reelected to the table, he has brought a summary of recomendations to permanently fix the problem.
Bernadette Marie McCoy March 04, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Back to the Mr. Raia's contention that no state employee should have a salary higher than that of Governor Cuomo because no one has a tougher job. Salaries are not generally matched to the perceived (by whom?) "toughness" of a job, a concept that is relative at best. The intrinsic fallacy that people are generally paid according to the "toughness" of the job lies in the definition of "toughness." How is the "toughness of a job" defined or measured? An expert bookkeeper may find public relations and management "tough." Is Mayor Bloomberg's job "tougher" than Governor Cuomo's? Bloomberg's mayoral salary is 190,000 as compared to Cuomo's $179,000. As a billionaire with a conscience (a rare commodity in public officials), Bloomberg has opted to take just $1.00 of his 190,000 mayoral salary. Is the job of mayor of the New York City worth $11,000 more than that of the governor of the entire state? Has Mr. Raia researched the salaries of all the mayors throughout the state? Perhaps some are higher than others. How would he account for the disparities? The relative "toughness" of the job in one city as opposed to another? Were I Mr. Raia's teacher, I would gently recommend that he do his homework on the issues he chooses to comment on. A refresher course in Logic 101 might also help.
Dan Ciccone March 05, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Let us also not forget that the Governor, while he is collecting his salary, also has a household staff, a driver and a great deal of what we consider normal personal expenses paid for by the taxpayer in addition to his salary... I think some superintendents would take a pay cut if they could live in a mansion rent free with personal aids and a household staff... I know I would! Bottom line is you should never compare a paid employee, public or private sector employee, to comepensation paid to an elected official. It is an apples-to-oranges comparison and only sounds good when you are trying to win popularity among an angry and frustrated crowd.
paul caplan March 05, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Andrew Raia's comments,although debatable on it's merits, has created a wonderful dialogue amongst this community. We have all been educated on the many websites available to garner more insight on these many issues.If we can focus on the suggestions of school consolidation, cap freezes on property taxes, salary caps [administration and teacher] and legislative caps and eliminate all other banter, it would my suggestion to create a public forum inviting Mr. Raia, Superintendents, BOE, Union leaders, PTA presidents and the community to formulate constructive ideas to improve the present system. If anyone can organize such a gathering, please come forward .Otherwise, it has been an education communicating with all of you.
Free 2B Me March 19, 2011 at 05:22 PM
How about the other great source of a politician's "income"... campaign contributions: http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Andrew_Raia Hmmmmm.... looks like the NYS Teacher's Union likes you Mr. Raia.

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