Long Island lawmaker criticized over pay hike

January 26, 2010 10:34:43 PM PST
Nassau County is facing tough economic times with a skyrocketing unemployment rate and high property taxes and a budget crisis. Despite the dark cloud hovering, Majority Leader Peter Schmitt is giving himself and two other legislators a huge raise. Nassau Legislative Democrats are vowing to try to get Republican-approved raises for the county legislature's three top leaders reversed.

Lawmakers voted for the pay increases on Monday morning.

Schmitt's salary jumped from more than 67-thousand dollars to more than 99-thousand. That's a 47 percent hike.

Deputy Presiding Officer John Ciotti got a 35 percent increase and Democratic Minority Leader Diane Yatauro's salary went from more than 63-thousand dollars to more than 90-thousand dollars, a 42 percent hike

Yatauro held a news conference on Tuesday refusing to accept the hike.

"To tell you that we are appalled at this shameless grab for money. It's gutwrenching in light of what were doing with the budget," she said.

Yatauro said if she's forced to take the money, she'll give it to charity.

Schmitt called the democrats hypocritical, claiming his predecessor Judy Jacobs tried to the same thing three times and failed

"And for them to turn around with their self righteous indignation is pathetic," he said.

Schmitt says the raises are merited. He says members of other local legislative bodies make "much more." He adds that the money is already in the budget.

Schmitt said that Yatauro had been briefed on the raises Friday and that it would be on Monday's legislative agenda.