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Legislative pay raises creating controversy in Albany

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WRGB) - Pay raises for lawmakers are already causing controversy in Albany. Some lawmakers are standing up against $50,000 raise.

"It should have been brought to the people," said Asm. Chris Tague (R-Schoharie).

Tague put out a statement Thursday night expressing his distaste over the newly introduced legislative pay raises that he as a lawmaker would receive.

"When I ran, I knew what the pay was,” Tague told us on Friday.

He says the pay raise comes off as corrupt, and some thought should have gone into raises a long time ago.

"A process should have been in place, increments at two or three percent over the years, if the taxpayers could afford it,” Tague said.

"It just seemed again like it happened behind closed doors and then all of a sudden you pick up the newspaper and there it is," said Asm. Jake Ashby (R-Castleton).

CBS 6 spoke with Ashby over the phone on Friday.

"I don't necessarily think it's a good idea to not have an increase in 20 years and then go to being the highest paid state legislature,” Ashby said.

However, he supports limiting outside income with the raise. So does Asm. Patricia Fahy.

"It is higher than what I expected," Fahy said (D-Albany).

But Fahy brought up points justifying the raise.

"[The Legislature is] having a hard time recruiting people to run for executive positions, having a hard time recruiting members in New York City," she said. "They're struggling to live on this wage."

Fahy never sought the raise for herself, but she sees it as a long-term benefit for government.

"The good news for democracy is that I think you'll see more people interested in running,” she said.

That's one thing that concerns Tague.

"That's going to bring people out of the woodwork and run for office - people who may not be qualified,” he said.

So we asked each lawmaker - will you accept the controversial raise?

"Do we have the option of not taking it?” Ashby questioned.

"Right at this point, I don't know,” Tague said. “There might be a constitutional issue in regards to it, I don't think I can not accept it. I might do something different with some of the money."

Fahy says she won't reject it but may just be donating more.

"You can't reject it,” she said. “If you're a sitting member, you're going to be paid."

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All three say lawmakers need to stay vigilant to monitor ethics. They say no pay raise will be an end all fix all for that.

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