An NBC News (4NewYork) I-Team Investigation
Playing hooky from school will generally get you bad grades. Skipping work might get you fired. But if you are a New York state senator, skipping your committee meetings is practically the norm.
An I-Team analysis of all of last year's committee meetings shows two out of three state senators fail to show up for the ones they’re assigned to attend.
The meetings are supposed to be opportunities for lawmakers to debate, vet and advocate for proposed legislation. But more often than not, the meetings are sparsely attended affairs held in nearly empty conference rooms with little discussion beyond opening pleasantries.
To measure committee attendance, the I-Team reviewed more than 200 committee meetings amounting to nearly two full days of video archived on the state Senate website. The overall attendance rate was 35 percent.
“I think New Yorkers would be very concerned to know the state lawmakers they pay so well with such nice benefits for a part-time job aren’t doing their entire job,” said Ken Girardin, a spokesman for the Empire Center for Public Policy, a government watchdog group.
New York state senators are paid a base salary of $79,500. They are expected to be in Albany about 60 days a year.
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