Having shown that they cannot be trusted to set their own salaries, there is only one alternative for New York legislators — put it on the ballot. If New Yorkers had the power to determine those salaries and benefits, you can imagine the outcome.

The salary would remain where it is, although where it is is fuzzy in the wake of legislative decisions, a special panel’s interpretation, a court ruling and what are sure to be more interpretations from the state attorney general and other courts.

Arizona and Nebraska already require voter approval for changes to legislative salaries. It is not clear if New York voters can be given this power but if it takes an amendment to the state Constitution, then we need to start pressing legislators to do that. They managed to approve amendments to allow more gambling and to lock in gerrymandering in recent years. Setting a salary is not much of a stretch at all given that track record.

Any legislation to transfer this power to the voters needs to be both simple and clear. It could even follow the pattern legislators themselves set with the cap on tax increases for schools and municipal budgets, allowing for simple raises to keep up with inflation.

While it would be nice to return to the salary that legislators had earned for so long, the $79,500 annual figure that made them among the best paid in the nation, it is more likely that any legislation with any chance of proceeding would have to include the raise that the panel approved last year and that the court in this initial ruling seemed to uphold.

That would give legislators a base salary of $110,000 a year, a generous figure for a part-time job. And while legislators will resist that description, everybody knows that they don’t do much legislating in many months when the Legislature is not in session. They spend most of that time schmoozing, an activity that does not deserve compensation.

Any ballot item regarding legislative pay should also come with the understanding that legislators cannot earn much, if anything, beyond the set figure. Members of Congress serve under such a restriction and New Yorkers could set the figure at 10 or 15 percent of the legislative salary. Anyone wanting to earn more than that can leave Albany.

This should not be much of a hurdle because most members of the Legislature, about 60 percent the last time the numbers were checked, do not have any outside income now.

There is bound to be resistance to putting this decision in the hands of voters not because it does not belong there but because legislators know that such a move is likely to leave them earning about what they earn now with little hope of any significant increase.

Yet legislators have shown that they do not have the expertise to handle this issue let alone the disinterested attitude it requires. By setting up a panel with guidelines so vague that its members ended up going off on their own tangents, wise though they might have been, legislators showed that they cannot be trusted to handle this.