By Eric Malanoski (Townsquare Media News)

State Senator Jim Seward called on Governor Cuomo Thursday to sign legislation he co-sponsored that would provide funding to counties to cover indigent legal services.  The legislation has passed both the senate and assembly and awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

In 2014, the New York State settled a lawsuit with five counties and agreed to expand public defense services and provide state funding to cover the costs.  The settlement, however, did not apply to the remaining counties in the state.  Senate bill 8114 extends the terms of the settlement to all counties and provides for a phased-in cost takeover by the state with full funding in 2022.

Seward also pressed the state assembly to join the senate and pass another vital mandate relief bill (S.7408) he co-sponsored to aid counties in paying mandated salary increases for full time district attorneys.

Salary increases for local full time district attorneys are tied to increases for judicial pay and set by the New York State Commission of Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation.  In the past, the state has funded the DA salary increases in the state budget; however, costs associated with recently adopted raises were not part of the governor’s 2016-17 budget proposal or the final adopted budget.

Senate bill 7408 would provide 100 percent state aid to counties to cover the increase in salary costs – approximately $30,000 per county or $1.57 million statewide.