Legislative Pay Increase

To see the final package the legislature is actually voting on — please go to this link.

The uncomfortable subject of state elected-official compensation has come up.  I am likely to need to vote on it sometime soon and I would welcome your thoughts.

Back in 2014, the legislature created a commission to review the compensation of the legislature and state constitutional officers.  The commissioners included two in senior positions at the University of Massachusetts, one from the Governor’s budget agency, two from good government groups (the League of Women Voters, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation), two more from the private sector (one from the Business Roundtable, one a former Federal Reserve executive).

It would not be fair to call anyone in the group an outsider, but the group was certainly well-informed, experienced, competent and credible and their report is very complete and factual. It is significant that their findings and recommendations were unanimous in every respect.

The commission’s report came out in December 2014, in the middle of the Patrick-to-Baker transition.   There was no appetite to act on it at the start of the 2015-2016 session as the state was going through a round of deep budget cuts.

From a legislative perspective, there is no good or comfortable time to act on the report, but now is a reasonable time.   It makes sense to consider compensation in the beginning of a session when most of the legislative leadership roles have not been assigned — fewer legislators will have to vote on particular stipends associated with their own positions.

In a nutshell, the commission recommended substantial pay raises for the state’s senior elected leaders. Their compensation is not out of line with compensation of similar positions in other states, but it is a small fraction of the compensation of roughly comparable positions in the private sector. The commission pointed to the need to attract skilled leaders, the desirability of keeping those leaders away from financial pressures that would create temptations and the importance of attracting those who are not independently wealthy to serve.

The Governor would go from $151,800 to $250,000 (including a new housing allowance) and the other constitutional officers — Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor and Secretary of State — would receive increases to $165,000 or $175,000. The largest percentage increase would go to the Senate President and the Speaker, who despite their enormous power and central role, have the lowest salaries — they would rise from $102,279 to $175,000.  Knowing the responsibilities of all of these positions and having a window into the work load and pressures that they entail, I support these increases without ambivalence. The pay scale will still remain dramatically below comparable private sector roles and, in fact, well below many public sector roles (see box below).

The recommendations of the commission will only result in minimal changes for the majority of legislators. The base compensation of legislators is governed by a constitutional amendment (Article CXVIII) which causes it to rise and fall with the median household income of the state. It was $58,157 when I started in 2007 and has moved up and down, most recently increased to $62,547 as of the start of this year. In addition to that base compensation, legislators receive an expense allowance of $7,200, which is fixed by statute. This allowance goes straight into legislative paychecks as taxable W-2 income and there is no specific accounting for actual expenses. Finally, legislators are entitled to a statutory “per diem” payment for each day that they travel to the state house, ranging from $10 to $100 based on travel distance. Many legislators decline the per diem, as do I.

The commission recommended that the per diem concept be abolished and that the expense allowance be increased to $10,000 for close-in legislators and $15,000 for legislators outside a 50 mile radius. For the closest legislators who have been declining the per diem, this will net to a $2,800 increase. For a few of the most distant legislators who, given their high travel costs, do accept the per diem, the change may net to a slight decrease. The per diem concept is messy, arbitrary and unverifiable. I support without ambivalence the concept of eliminating it and adjusting the expense allowance as proposed.

For legislators who hold some type of leadership post — a committee chairmanship or a role in floor operations (majority leader, whip, etc.) — the commissions recommendations may have a substantial impact. The commission recognized that “reasonable adjustments in the stipends provided to other House and Senate leadership positions are justified” but did not detail any recommendations as to these positions. Given the substantial increases recommended for the top leaders, some substantial adjustment would be appropriate. As of this writing, there is no proposal on the table, but if we vote on a bill in the next week or two, it is likely to include increases for the various stipended leadership posts. Currently most committee chairs receive stipends of $7,500 with certain committees ranging higher, up to $25,000 for the Ways and Means chairs.

For example, as Senate Chair of the Judiciary, my pre-tax paycheck last year included base pay of $60,033 plus $7,200 for expense plus a chairmanship stipend of $7,500 — a total of $74,733. With the proposed expense adjustment, that would increase to $77,533. The stipend would likely also increase by a so-far unspecified amount, but I would expect the amount to be material.

I have always been grateful for the opportunity to serve the public. I have made peace with the idea that I earn substantially less than I did in private sector roles I held right out of school and I have been proud to make the life-style sacrifices I have made over my 25 years of appointed and elected public service. The life style I do have is adequate and I am acutely aware that there are many people in need at this time.

So, it is with real ambivalence that I contemplate a pay increase that could benefit me personally. But, for all the reasons that the commission cited, I am likely to support the recommendations.

Responses to Comments (as of January 23)

Thanks so much to all of who have commented on both sides of this question. The exchange has helped me a lot.

A couple of points that I neglected to mention that are responsive to some of the comments:

  • The stipends for legislative leaders have not been adjusted since 1982.  The bulk of the recommended pay increase for them is catch up to inflation.  This should give some comfort to those commenters who are comparing the large percentage increase to adjustments they are accustomed to receiving themselves.  After the increase, the two senior legislative leaders will be at or near the top in the nation, but, other states will catch up as they get around to making adjustments. To avoid big catch up adjustments in the future the commission recommended indexing of the legislative stipend.
  • The adjustments taken together total under 0.01% of the state budget and they will be absorbed within agency budgets.  The specific recommendations of the commission total under $1,000,000 and the less specific recommendations as to other legislative leadership roles will have similarly limited costs.  No budgetary increase will be required in the current fiscal year, but, in future years, the costs will be part of the budgetary base.
  • The responsibilities of legislative leaders are actually and necessarily much greater than those of other members.  Some lamented the steep differences in compensation among legislators at different levels of responsibility.  While I favor a shared leadership model and a transparent, inclusive approach, there has to be an identified leadership team to run the show on a day-to-day basis and there is a lot to that.
  • Legislators will not be voting on their own personal compensation, rather on the compensation of a class of employees that happens to include them.   That sounds like distinction without a difference, but it is actually important.  Many votes that legislators take affect them personally — if they cut taxes, they benefit from the tax cut; if they spend more on schools, their kids benefit from a better education.  Ethical rulings prohibit legislators outright from voting on matters in which they have a unique personal interest, but not on matters in which they are members of a beneficiary class.

I’m grateful to those who commented to the effect of “you deserve it”, but this conversation has helped me get clear in my own mind that that is not the right question.    It is irrelevant whether any particular individual or even a class of individuals “deserves” an increase.  While other hard-working people are struggling, no one “deserves” anything.

The real question is how the compensation adjustments will affect the public interest generally.  As a taxpayer, I favor the increases for two basic reasons.  First, these important positions should be attractive enough that there is vibrant competition to fill them. Many voters would say that they don’t feel that they consistently have good options.   Every two years (four years for the statewide offices), these seats are open, but there is often only one candidate.  To some extent the lack of competition reflects satisfaction with the performance of incumbents and/or recognition of the power of incumbency, but it also suggests that the compensation offered is often inadequate to attract people.

Second, I don’t want legislative leaders to feel distracting financial pressures.  The responsibilities of legislative leaders do create financial strains.  They are expected to make numerous public appearances and frequently to pickup event costs for other legislators, staff and constituents.    If they do have any significant outside sources of income (which most legislators do not), they have less time to devote to them.  It has been become standard practice for senior legislators to fund-raise heavily and to spend those campaign funds on business expenses like business phone, business travel and business meals.  While the practice is legal, it does reflect financial strain and contributes to a tighter relationship between donors and legislative leaders.  The pay increase will not end that practice, but it will lower the strain in a healthy way.

Overall, the commission’s recommendations are thoughtfully designed and benefit the public. I expect to support the legislative package that implements them.

 

What do public employees make?

A lot of people seem to be responding to the proposed numbers for the senior elected officials as being too high. I would agree that they should not be making what bandit CEO’s make (millions or billions).

But I do feel that the proposed salaries in the $150,000 + range are actually reasonable — at the proposed levels, the top leaders would still be making less than hundreds or thousands of public employees. That may be the most appropriate comparison.

Any one can view the entire state payroll at mass.gov/opencheckbook. If you take a minute to download the data and sort through you will see that among state employees in 2016, there were:

  • 172 earning more than $250,000 (the originally proposed level for the Governor)
  • 1,173 earning more than $175,000 (the originally proposed level for the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 12,476 earning more than $102,279 (the current level of the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 35,917 earning more than $74,733 (the current level of a typical Senator like me)

In the City of Boston in 2014, according to a download from https://data.cityofboston.gov/ there were:

  • 66 earning more than $250,000 (the originally proposed level for the Governor)
  • 591 earning more than $175,000 (the originally proposed level for the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 4,621 earning more than $102,279 (the current level of the Speaker and Senate President)
  • 9,400 earning more than $74,733 (the current level of a typical Senator like me)

Those earning more than the typical Senator include school custodians, teachers, firefighters, etc.  The work they do is important, but so is the work we do in the state house.  Incidentally, all of these public employees have pensions which are the same or better than legislative pensions.

To see the final package the legislature is actually voting on — please go to this link.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

289 replies on “Legislative Pay Increase”

  1. I would support this too Will. Thanks for doing so much for not much play. I really appreciate it and appreciate your honesty and the accurate info.

  2. Sorry will. Thank you for doing so much for so little PAY! Thank you for all the good you do for us.
    Cathy Couture

  3. These increases do not sound unreasonable. I do not think that pay is what attracts people to government service; it is either the will to effect change and serve constituents (I suspect in your case) or a yen for power. These pay increases will not make a difference in who runs for office, but I do wish we could do something about campaign finance, so that people without means could run for office.

  4. I support the recommendations of the communion, but I would like to add that increasing the salaries of elected officials, while necessary sometimes, should come with considerations for the financial needs of the states’ working class. While I know our state has one of the highest minimum wages in the country, I support the push to raise it to $15 per hour.

  5. Thank you for soliciting feedback on this issue. In general agree with your assessment of the situation and the recommendations of the commission except perhaps for the rather large increases for the most senior positions (especially Governor).

  6. Will,

    The salary increases are basically a market adjustment to ensure parity with other state leaders with a similar cost of living. This is done routinely in the private sector to attract and retain top level talent. I support the plan as proposed.

  7. I think the commonwealth profits by having talented people in office. I heartily support the raises for the top-level staff. I think the base salaries should be $90K.

  8. Will,

    Your summary was very informative. I agree that the job is more likely 24/7 for the dedicated, that attracting good people from the ‘private sector’ is a worthwhile endeavor, and that I don’t want public officials worrying about trying to make their own ends meet while at the same time under the stress and putting in the hard work in their position for the state. After reading your discussion on this and some of the replies, I am tentatively in favor of approval of the measure.

    I would like to see what the total dollar amount increase this would mean in the state budget. Actual dollars, and expressed as a percentage of the total state budget. Also, the same for the salaries that would change, in total. I.e. what’s the total for salaries for all legislators, elected state offices, including the governor, in dollars (after the change) and as a percentage of the total state budget.

    Just to put this into a better perspective, for everyone.

    One more thing. I am a bit wary of comparisons with the private sector. After all, here in the USA, the ‘private sector’ has a habit of paying executives and managers many times the rate of the worker at the “Lowest Rung” in the organization, when compared to other countries around the world. So, yes, we have to pay enough to attract good talent. However, I’d like to keep an eye on where we’re comparing our pay rates to privates sector rates that are clearly out of control. That said, clearly under $200K for the governor is not exorbitant, in my opinion. The bigger issue for me is when the MBTA pays over 1/3 of its employees over $100K, or they or other departments in state government that actively resist modernization, better management methods, proper outsourcing, etc. To me, that’s where the real money is spent. After that, it’s the medical industrial complex that is really taking us all to the cleaners, but that’s a topic for another day.

  9. You’d appreciate my thoughts.

    Appreciate this.

    WE WON.

    INISIATE QUESTION 4.

    Perhaps.

    Your call.

  10. I am not supportive of the scale of increases proposed. Many others have indicated good reasons why to object to the proposed increases for the top 3 salaries. When proposing comparable salaries, it is more appropriate to compare their salaries to private nonprofit comparable positions. Public service should never be on par with corporate positions which as many noted are bloated and disproportionate to what people are earning at the lower end of the pay scale. If we had a living wage, affordable public transit and health insurance, then the pay raises would be justifiable — within reason. Please do not vote for this proposal as currently presented.

  11. Perhaps the Commonwealth would care to share some of the common wealth. The expense budget that is proposed for the closest in legislators exceeds my social security payment because I was unwise enough to become a quadriplegic. The legislators deserve fairness, but don’t we all?

    1. This vote is not primarily about fairness, although I think the lack of adjustment of leadership stipends since 1982 is a little unfair, it is about putting in place a structure that supports the health of a public institution.

      But my heart goes out to you and I hope you’ll let my office know if there are ways we can help.

  12. Hey Will,

    What have the legislators done that merits them getting a raise? Over the years I’ve seen a few things they’ve done to benefit themselves, and overall it seems like they think the people serve them, not the other way around. The most recent example is their subversion of the Cannabis law – done covertly (how does that serve the people?). I hope a wave of challengers will run against them in the next race. You should go into politics because you want to help your fellow citizens. If you don’t feel you’re making enough, get a part time job like everyone else has to. You’ve been doing a good job but the rest of them – not so much.

  13. Whatever the Commission decided is in all probability fair. I also think that your salary is about the same or a little more than that of a senior level mgmt. job at the social service agency where I work. I believe you deserve the increase. Your reasoning about your current living expenses and a raise was as always well done. – John Millea

  14. I think we do need to make sure that elected officials are properly compensated; however, given that the Governor and the legislature have committed to austerity for the public, I do not believe such an increase is justifiable at this time. That said, I would love for the legislature to embrace fair and just taxation and robust investment, and in that context, I think it would be justifiable.

  15. First, I caution that any comparison with the private sector needs to include salary benefits, retirement & retirement benefits. Since the introduction of the 401K, the value of retirement has diminished in the private sector and increased in the public.
    Second, the benefit of a fixed expense allowance is the removal of temptation to pad that account.
    As for salaries, they should be fair and equitable. We don’t know or understand the nuances of all sources of income but the reponsibility of the job certainly equates to a much higher salary than the $75K you state.

    1. This is true – you have to look at the total package. A few years ago I spent a lot of time going over private/public comparisons based on total income. The basic conclusion I found is that at lower income levels, you are probably better off in the public sector — a school janitor does much better than a cleaner in a downtown office building. But, the higher you go up the professional ladder, the better off you are in the private sector. At the managerial/professional levels we are talking about, income would generally be considerably higher in the private sector.

  16. Will, your comments make me feel the commission did their due diligence. One point I would call out is, in making comparisons to private sector jobs, can a proposal with these increases, also include a removal of the pension and institute what we, in the private sector see is the norm, a defined contribution (401k or 403b plan)? It is the only thing that gets me.

    Good luck in the vote and thanks again for your communication.

  17. Hi Will, Thanks again for your usual excellent discussion of the legislative pay situation. It appears that this is a hot topic from the volume of responses. I think you would agree that you have received a good representation of the thoughts on legislative compensation that are out there. As far as the senators and representatives, the pay has been very poor for a long time and represents people’s general perspective of “public service” work. That refers to municipal workers, public health, social work, teachers in most communities and other professions named by many of your respondents. It was said many times in the comments, and I agree, that it is not always a good idea to compare salaries with the private sector. There seems to be this relatively new thought that in order to attract the best and the brightest, one has to pay exorbitantly high salaries. What has happened in CEO salaries, as well as school superintendents, and I’m sure other sectors of which I am unaware, is a good example of that. On the other hand, the thought that good people should care enough about these “public service jobs” to take low salaries while everyone else shoots for the highest dollar is equally ridiculous. We need to start talking about living wages with added incentives to make sure that undesirable jobs that we need are filled. More money will not always attract the best and the brightest and paying a high salary will not always get you a good employee. You do a great job; some others don’t. What people see when they don’t want to give the legislators a higher income are the number of minutes that the legisltors are in session reported in the local papers. I think citizens are perfectly reasonable to expect a good salary with expenses associated with the job covered, but we should be able to expect a full-time position commitment. The top salaries, especially for the governor, are too high in relation to the State as a whole. It never sits well when suddenly the salaries are raised so high on a percentage basis. A plan with slow increases would sit much better with the populace. There is only so much knowledge that one person can have and only so many hours in a day, and the thought that high paid people do so much more than everyone else has always been just wrong in my estimation. Working three low-paid jobs because you couldn’t afford an education, that’s work. My basic message mirrors many others, bring up the bottom; put a ceiling on the top and balance the middle. I think most people can support that. The search for more money and more economic growth at the expense of everyone else has brought us to the place we are. Sorry for the ramble but I am just back from Washington DC.

  18. I agree that with all the work State Senators and reps. do, they need a raise. But since they do most of the work in getting bills in committee or on the floor, they deserve it but I think the Speaker of the House does not

  19. You deserve it Senator Will.
    I support your recommendations.
    I work in the private sector as a consulting engineer. Three years have passed since the committee made its recommendations for the increase. In the private sector, this is not acceptable, why is it different in the public sector?

  20. This is not much overall to the state budget. The total increase would be about $1 million per year, on current expenditures of about $15 million, if Will is typical, eg,

    40 Senators & 160 Representatives, now
    $70K each, increase +$3K (about 4%): +$600K;

    Governor:
    $151K, increase +$100K (66%); +$100K;

    Officials (4),
    $130K each, increase +$50K (38%): +$200K;

    Senate President and Speaker (2)
    $102K each, increase $75K (73%): +$150K

    Total expenditure, currently $15.5M, increase +$1.05M

    In context, the state budget was $55 billion in FY2015 ($45 billion state funds, $9 billion federal), though with a spending gap of $1.8 billion when the budget was signed in July 2015.

    Top expenses by category:

    Education 22.4% or about $12B
    (both K-12 and Higher Ed.)

    Medicaid 21.4% or $12B

    Transportation 7.7% or $ 4B

    Corrections 2.4% or $ 1.3B

    Public assistance 2.2% or $ 1.2B

    All Other 44.0% about $24B

    source:
    https://ballotpedia.org/Massachusetts_state_budget_and_finances

  21. My first thought is about many state workers and state-funded programs that have had level-funding for many years, and many people in public service who have been doing on-the-ground hard work in social services, education, etc.

    But the commission report seems reasonable, and the reasons for competitive salaries are reasonable, and so I think it should be partially funded…. maybe not fully funded for symbolic reasons.

    I agree about getting away from the per diem formula. A flat amount is more professional and more manageable.

  22. I heard that the governor was not going to take the raise. It must be very tough for legislators that must travel for 2-3 hours to travel to Boston then pay to park. I assume legislators do not get free parking.

  23. I think this is a right measure. Elected officials should be compensated appropriately. That lowers the potential for corruption.

  24. I do not like the justification that high salaries are necessary to attract qualified people. If Stan Rosenberg will vote no and Byron Rushing would be glad to step up if DeLeo is insulted by the salary, bring it on.

    I suggest voting “no” unless leadership salaries are lowered substantially to say 2% stipend raise compounded per year since 1982. They deserve the same salary as other legislators plus that stipend.

  25. Thank you for your clear and thoughtful analysis. I agree with the commission’s recommendations and reasoning, and your support of them.

    I also think it would make sense to index leadership pay increases in some way, to avoid the need for this kind of dramatic jump in the future. (No change for 35 years, yikes!)

  26. Senator,
    I’m offended by the audacity of your request!
    (I’m going to paint this very broadly). Thanks to an ill-advised ballot question, that passed because we as citizens were convinced that this would the most just way to compensate the legislature; you and your peers now get a pay raise that is MANDATED by our constitution. (Wow, I wish mine was). The trouble is, your raises are now kinda linked to ours. Kinda sucks doesn’t it?

  27. I fully support the proposed pay increase. We need qualified people and they need to be compensated fairly. These are challenging times and our competent MA legislators are up to the task and we need to support them anyway we can.

  28. I think the pay raises are a good idea. Public service should not be a thankless job. As you said, offering lower salaries discourages qualified people from running for office and turn public service into a hobby for the rich.

  29. I have yet to read others’ comments, but while I have no problem in principle agreeing to fair compensation for quantity of work and relative responsibility, I’m having difficulty supporting bringing legislative pay increases in line with inflation when the same legislature seems so resistant to bringing the MA living wage in line with this same inflation. The last I saw, MA minimum wage increases were incremental and over a period of several years, which almost certainly means the rate will continue to lag behind the inflation rate. If the legislature were to raise the rate sooner and higher, I could more easily countenance a legislative pay raise. Fair is fair.

  30. I’m furious that they would even consider such an irrational pay raise, in such a time as this. So many services are headed to stop because of the actions of the 1% having gained so much power in Washington, people need to work several jobs at $11 per hr to just make ends meet, while they are still paying for an education that makes them overqualified for the part time jobs that they must hold. Seniors like me, and families with little children see their food stamps cut every few months.

    I am trying to budget my $80 per month allotted for healthy food, and I would like public officials who have the LUXURY of voting themselves such a pay raise to have to work for $11 per hour that they ACTUALLY work, and also live on $80 a month for food.

    I am SO sick of this type of bloated benefits for positions, as another commented, are defined as public service.

    We have come so far since Franklin D. Roosevelt (who accepted no pay for his service as President) that it makes me so sad – and furious. And I will not vote for one politician who votes to continue this cronyism.

  31. I think the planned salary adjustments are very reasonable and much deserved–most especially yours. I appreciate all the hard work you perform on our behalf and pray for the health and well being of you and your family.

  32. PLEASE!!!! What Do you think! I’m 70 years old and retired. Why don’t you people pass some God Damn law to give us retired state workers more than a $300 raise every year.

  33. I SUPPORT the increases. Good paying jobs will promote more people to get involved with elected office

  34. Although I agree that the legislators could use a pay raise, i think that almost doubling the governor’s salary is obscene. Also, the leaders in the house & senate….. Can’t they go up incrementally over several years like the raising of the minimum wage?

  35. As a former executive compensation consultant, I was intrigued to see the Commission’s report. Thanks for providing it. A few comments: (1) They report their time was “tightly constrained,” so they couldn’t assess total compensation, including benefits. Very poor planning on someone’s part. (2) The private sector comparisons were silly, some more so than others. But they weren’t used, so it didn’t matter. (3) The comparisons across other high-salary state jobs raises the question about their appropriateness (on both the low and the high side) But they also were not used. The comparisons that were used as the basis for the recommendations were of other state legislatures and seemed to me more or less valid to me. So I support the increase and other changes – except for one – the Lt. Governor job is paid too high already for its real duties. It probably should be eliminated.

  36. I see the increases in the context of the overall budget. How much total (dollars and percent) would it add?

    With the governor and the legislature opposed to tax increases, what services will be cut? It’s hard to weigh this proposal out of context, though I appreciate that we ask you to do that all the time.

    Personally I think we should increase taxes to make investments that are important to the Commonwealth.

  37. Will, this is terrible optics and has the potential to be demoralizing in a time when both people are struggling and they’ve sent a message nationally that they want to blow up the entire system. Don’t give Massachusetts voters an excuse to say that they’re right.

  38. Reasonable pay will attract good people. Our representatives should not have to continue to work for 1982 wages. This is overdue. Something should be added (if it has not been already) to automatically make adjustments so that current legislators do not have to vote raises for themselves.

  39. I’m a big proponent of government officials being OF and FOR the people. With six figure salaries like that, how can our legislative leaders understand the daily struggles that most people in this state have? I’m fine with the other increases, but $175,000 and $250,000 are EXCESSIVE. With regard to comparing to the private sector, many people are fighting against CEOs with salaries that are several times larger than their employees. I understand that adjustments haven’t been made in a while and that these increases are only a small percentage of the overall budget. You say that the increases will be absorbed by agency budgets, but what parts of their budgets will not be met because they now must handle these salary increases? I am against the such large salary increases for the constitutional officers.

  40. Compensation for public service jobs should not be bench-marked to the private sector. I would probably agree that the typical legislator is somewhat underpaid and I do not have too much trouble with that portion of the increase.

    The increases for the leadership positions are way too high. $175,000 may seem reasonable compared with the private sector but this does not factor in the value of benefits – especially pension benefits. Those of us in the private sector have seen pensions disappear. In fact, I have never had one. Further, there is no reason why the senior legislative leaders need to be the highest paid in the country.

    The proposed increase for the Governor is also too high. We do not seem to have much trouble attracting decent candidates. I don’t think it is too much to ask for them to serve a term or two at a reasonable rate since they tend to command huge salaries when their terms are over.

  41. I wish the legislature would pass comprehensive criminal justice reform; only then would I back raises.

    My state representative told me that the legislature only passes about 20 bills of any consequences every year. Are we paying a lot for shuffling paper?

  42. I’m supportive of the increases. It comes down to getting what you pay for. It has to be attractive enough to get good people, and high enough so they/you don’t have the constant worry of finding outside income for your families.

    Here’s a way to offset some of the cost:
    Get rid of the Governor’s Council. Very few, if any, states have such a body. The senate, in combination with other bodies, could pick up those few duties. (For example,the senate would then approve appointments of judges, like just about everywhere else.) Someone in state govt once told me (about 10 yrs ago?) as a guess that office costs the state $500k-600k per year. This would help the optics a bit – getting rid of waste, the legislature pick up some (minimal) tasks.

  43. I support the increases. We have to pay fairly for our leadership, to ensure quality representation and continuity. As a elected and re-elected (several times) member of an orchestra committee, I know it’s valuable to have members who have a sense of the history of the group. If I wanted to gut the government, I would have voted for someone else for President.
    I know it’s touchy for legislators to vote pay increases for themselves, but the increases are not huge (even for the leadership, if they haven’t had an increase in 34 years). What were you earning 35 years ago?
    And by all means, index future raises so we don’t have to have this discussion perennially!

  44. There are few things that should be done first.
    1) prison reform long overdue
    2) increase the minimum wage to $15.00
    When these issues are completed and in effect, then i would agree with the increases. I realize that the minimum wage was just increased to $11.00 from $10.00. That is a 10% increase. The increases being proposed are 50% or higher for the legislators. In order to be fair the minimum wage should increase by 50% as well. Just a thought!
    I appreciate your sincere interest in listening to your constituents.

  45. It makes sense to index salaries for awhile but there should be thorough review periodically — say every 3 to 5 years. Otherwise the salaries get out of whack with the economy, a sense of entitlement settles in and it becomes extremely difficult to adjust inequities.

  46. I believe there are so few contested seats is not due to the pay but the difficulty of running against an incumbent in power. Thus why term limits could be a good idea. What you lose though with term limits is experience. What you gain is fresh ideas and more people willing to possibly run and serve.

    Yes legislators deserve fair pay and fair and reasonable pensions. Pensions are a real issue to consider. Many are unmatched in the private sector

    I am open to the pay increase but also to a full year legislative session where bills are not all passed or passed over at the last minute

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