Counties and DA's Call on Assembly to Pass Bill For State Reimbursement of State-Mandated DA Salary Raises

The legislation passed the State Senate on May 22, 2017 and is now in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) and the District Attorney's Association of New York (DAASNY) today called on the State Assembly to take up legislation requiring the State to reimburse counties for state-mandated raises for District Attorneys.

The legislation (S.519, Young/A.751, Gunther) passed the State Senate on May 22, 2017 and is now in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

“The State is quick to blame local governments for high property taxes, but they are just a quick to pass laws and policies that increase local costs that require property tax contributions,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer. “When they voted to increase judge's salaries, they forced county property taxpayers to foot the bill for increasing DA salaries at the same time. This is a simple budget clean-up bill that will put the onus on the state to pay for its decision.”  

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.

In 2015 the NYS Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation voted to recommend an increase in state judge's salaries in 2016 and 2018. The State legislature adopted this recommendation into law on April 1st 2016.

For 50 years, every time the State has increased judges' pay, they have funded DAs' salary increases in the form of reimbursement to counties.  But this year, and last, the State Budgets did not include allocations for DA salary increases, opting instead, to have local taxpayers fund the state-mandates raises.

“This legislation will make local taxpayers whole for a decision made in the State Capitol, and we are gathering with our DA's on Tuesday to call on the State Assembly to pass this mandate relief bill, so it can be sent to the Governor for his signature,” said President Cherry.

"District Attorneys are dedicated professionals entitled to fair compensation for upholding public safety. New York State law directly links District Attorney salaries to judicial salaries. This assures that District Attorneys are paid fairly in all 62 counties across the state,” said Thomas P. Zugibe, DAASNY President and Rockland County District Attorney. “Although the need to cover these state mandated salary increases for District Attorneys was recognized by the state for many decades, it has not done so for the past two years. This has stressed the budgets of many upstate counties, that in many cases are unable to absorb this unanticipated cost. DAASNY is continuing its ongoing conversation with the Governor and the Legislature to ease this burden on counties."
“County District Attorneys perform many essential public functions of state and local concern. DA's are entitled to fair and just compensation pursuant to state 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, should necessarily be met by the State,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.
The bill would cost the State $1.7 million, which is a small fraction of the $152 billion state budget, but it amounts to a significant portion of most counties' allowable tax growth under the state-imposed property tax cap.
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate, advocate for, and serve member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.   
The District Attorneys Association of New York (DAASNY) is a bipartisan organization dedicated to making New York safe for our millions of residents and visitors. DAASNY was founded in 1909 and is an organization for elected prosecutors and senior executives throughout the state. Members meet regularly to discuss issues that are critical to our criminal justice system.