Because the state budget was due on April 1 but hasn't been approved yet, state law prohibits legislators from getting paid. And, guess what, going almost four months without pay is hard! But, don't worry, many lawmakers understand if you don't care: Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Queens), who is dipping into his savings to pay for his mortgage, tells the NY Times, "People are rightfully fed up with the lack of effectiveness in state government. I would quickly forgive them for not having sympathy for our personal plight."
While some lawmakers have outside jobs—for instance, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver works at law firm Weitz & Luxenberg (yes, the personal injury one) but he's never disclosed his salary—others, like Gianaris, hold down their elected position as their sole job. Assemblyman Jose Rivera (D-Bronx) said, "[Senate conference leader John] Sampson and Silver, they are doing very well. They don’t need their paycheck. We depend on our salaries to pay our rent." How is he making the bills? His wife's pension.
The Times adds, "Even lawmakers who have working spouses say losing a chunk of their $79,500 yearly income hurts. Michelle Schimel, an assemblywoman from Long Island, said that although her husband had a job at Infosys International, they needed both their incomes to pay their mortgage, college loans for their two sons and other household expenses." She said, "I may end up being the first assemblywoman to foreclose on a mortgage," but added, "I signed up for this."
In the meantime, Governor Paterson is trying to get the Legislature to come back to Albany to finish the budget. The Senate Democrats' spokesman said, "The Senate and Assembly are meeting themselves because the governor says he will not negotiate."