Skoufis says he would have voted against Cuomo’s raise

State Sen. James Skoufis, who stepped out of the Senate chamber before his colleagues voted on a giant raise for Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 1, clarified in a statement on Tuesday that he would have opposed the pay increase if he had been present for the roll call.

“Of course I would’ve voted no,” the Woodbury Democrat said. “I left the chamber in protest, refusing to take part in what can only be described as a joke, if only it wasn’t so serious.”

Skoufis previously had said that he left to use the bathroom after an overnight voting session on the budget, but had declined to say if he supported or opposed the pay increase. He and Sen. Jen Metzger, a fellow Democratic freshman who represents an adjacent district and works closely with Skoufis, both left their seats before the 36-24 vote approving the raise.

The resolution hiked Cuomo’s $179,000 salary to $200,000 for this year, $225,000 for 2020 and $250,000 for 2021. It also granted three consecutive raises to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. The same appointed panel that recommended those amounts also awarded state lawmakers three years of increases, the first in Albany for elected officials in 20 years.

Almost every Republican legislator in both chambers voted against the Democratic governor’s $71,000 combined raise, as did a small number of Democrats, including Assembly members Aileen Gunther of Forestburgh and Kevin Cahill of Kingston. Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson of Newburgh was the only lawmaker out of 10 representing Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties that voted in favor of the pay increase.

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