Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pay Raise Possible for Legislative Leaders

Here's a sure-to-be-popular idea:
The independent Commission on Compensation of Elected State Officials and State Judges is studying the possibility of better compensation for legislative leaders.

The board's chairman, Lewis. B. Rome, said that while the legislature is a part-time entity, the top leaders essentially hold full-time jobs, the Republican-American of Waterbury reported.

Rome said there is a big discrepancy between the workload of leaders and other lawmakers. (AP)

At least one leader, Speaker Amann, seems opposed to the idea, although Amann's spokesman did say he might be interested in "a modest, across-the-board increase for all legislators."

Senate Minority Leader Louis DeLuca disagreed:
"I don't think there should be a pay increase for anybody," Senate Minority Leader Louis C. DeLuca, R-Woodbury, said. "If we are going to have a part-time legislature, we have to keep the pay commensurate with a part-time legislature." (AP)

I think all legislators, including the leaders, should have a raise in their pay. Here's why:

  • The legislature is becoming less and less part time. There have been special sessions almost every year for a long time, and the legislature is certainly more than a full-time pursuit when it's in session.
  • Find me a job, other than lawyer, which allows its employees to be gone for half of the year, not to mention extras like hearings, special sessions and campaigning. There are very few--and almost none of them are jobs that most middle-class people have.
  • $28,000 is not enough to live on if being a legislator is one's only career.
  • Therefore, it's no wonder the General Assembly is thick with lawyers and members of the upper class. I couldn't afford to be a member, and neither could a lot of others.

There's something to be said for the ideal of the citizen-legislator, who works a regular job and has a life outside the Capitol. This model made sense a century ago., but I don't believe it does now.

Public financing of campaigns will help to open the General Assembly to people who wouldn't otherwise consider running. A better wage for legislators would help to open it even further.

What do you think?

Should our legislators be given a pay raise?
Yes
No
I'm not sure
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Source
"A Collection of Briefs From the State Capitol." Associated Press 12 January, 2007.

25 comments:

Matt said...

There are quite a large number of CT residents who live on $28,000 a year, or even less. Sometimes a lot less.

Anonymous said...

This is not a job that one is supposed to make a living at! (100 years ago or now or ever!)

They would get the job done much quicker if they didn't clog up the docket with stupid legislation that wastes people's time in the first place!

Perhaps they ought to put a limit on how many bills any one legislator can introduce in any one session. Less legislation would be much better for all of us in the long run. Furthermore there is an awful lot of legislation that should be repealed or simplified.

For heavens sake don't pay these people more money!

The reason we have so many "upper class" types is that running a successful campaign has become pretty much accessible only to the rich and well connected. i don't see campaign finance laws changing that any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Give me term limits first then lets consider if any pay raises should be considered.

The last I knew no one has a gun to their head forcing them to be members of the General Assembly.

Besides the $28,000 in pay these guys have health care benefits few of us in the private sector have.

bluecoat said...

Yes matt, you are right but few of them have the time to continue to earn that little and run for elective office at the sametime. I really don't know about the pay raise or the possibility of full time status where legislators would be bound by similar rules as the US Congress with regard to outside income but I beleive the issue is worthy of a debate.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that Amann is against this idea. These part-time legislators do not need to be paid more.

Anonymous said...

Bad poll question. Too open-ended. How much is the propsoed increase, 5 percent or 50 percent or more? What is the comparison? I like the idea that legislators have to earn a living. Makes them relate to real people, and not just the parasites that live off the public sector.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of less laws. Limiting the number of new laws that can be proposed is a good idea. How about a trade-off. To propose a new law, legislators must propose eliminating an existing law? Or a lottery. Give a raise to the legislator who proposes abolishing the largest number of outdated an unnecessar laws.

Anonymous said...

Public service is just that. Service to the public. You shouldn't get into it to get rich. As for attracting good legislators, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people who want to be a legislator.

Anonymous said...

If we pay 'em more, will we get better laws?

Anonymous said...

So here's another poll, These guys all deserve a pay raise because:

A. They have lowered, our taxes by controlling spending, and living within our means.

B. They have not really created a $36 BILLION mess for our kids to clean up with their teacher, state worker pension, and health care under funding each year, while they claim to have produced budget surpluses.

C. They have made Connecticut such an attractive place to do business we are turning many prospective companies who want to come to Connecticut with good paying jobs away each day because we don't need the jobs.

D. None of the above.... But here in Connecticut we never concern ourselves about wasting money, we're the richest per capita state in the country.

cowboy said...

The problem is that the legislature was intended to be a part-time affair - but the expansion of state government has required additional work hours from its legislators.

Instead of incentivizing expanded, less efficient government by increasing the pay of our legislators, we should elect people who will make state government more efficient, and require fewer of our dollars for the honor of doing it.

TrueBlueCT said...

I don't want to call anyone naive, but posters should familiarize themselves with how our state legislators make their livings.

Start with Jim Amann, who draws a hefty salary from the United Way as a "fundraiser".

Anyone know how much??

RedRidden said...

Where is this rule that you're SUPPOSED to have your cake and be able to eat it too? "hmm...do i maintain a full-time year-round career, or do i run for public office? well hell, i should be able to do both!"

No, I'm sorry...if you can afford to run for and work in the state legislature AND still have a job waiting for you when you're not in session, then fine, go for it. But if you can't, then you just might need to see where your priorities lie and make a decision for one or the other. Where is this sense of entitlement coming from, that just because you WANT to run for office you should be able to without actually make a little sacrifice? By that logic, if I wanted to be a State Senator, I could do so without actually having to pass the electoral muster of accumulating a certain number of votes.

Amen, I say, to all the posters above who are A.) opposed to upping our taxes by throwing more money at these people who -- and let's be honest -- are NOT in politics for the money but rather the influence; B.) opposed to rewarding the gross incompetence and inefficiency that has come out of Hartford for God-knows-how-long; and C.) of the mindset that serving the public and advancing the common weal is reward in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they're a lots of people who want to run for the General Assembly, most of them morons.

In fact, I think it's kinda funny that the story quotes Amann and DeLuca, two of the biggest morons up there. Increase the salary. Maybe if we did would could persuade some people with a brain to run against the two them.

I'll tell you this. I wouldn't do it for 28K a year.

Anonymous said...

I would have preferred the money they put into CFR be put into salary.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the concept of a citizen legislature has a great deal of value because it should bring many different experiences and points of view into each debate.

At the same time, though, how much you work also depends on your district. Folks in well-to-do districts spend most of their time on legislation and they respond to their constituents because they get communications in favor or against specific bills.

A legislator from a poor district, however spends their time fighting an uphill battle trying to pass legislation that serves this population and an even larger amount of time acting as their district's social worker. Their constituent communications are very seldom about favoring or opposing bills. It is almost always requesting assistance in very dire and complicated family cases involving homelessness, lack of access to healthcare, people that are incarcerated, etc.

The legislator serving a poor district works more than full time.

cowboy said...

CFR raises the stakes on this issue - if we are going to subsidize campaigns, and raise salaries for people who spent our money on themselves, will we ever get politicians who will vote for smaller, more efficient government?

I think not.

Ralphie said...

In this to get rich?

There ARE legislators in the leg to get rich, but I guarantee you they're not getting rich off 28k per year -- they're getting rich off state contractors. Serving in the legislature is an honorable profession, but it should be a profession -- otherwise the only people who'll serve are the independently wealthy and the terminally corrupt. If the last ten years has taught us anything, it's that that formula doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

Come on Ralphie, The people in our General Assembly are all independently wealthy???

Bought and paid for by special interest groups, sure... But most are just common people like ourselves who thought they could go to Hartford and make a difference.

Once they got there they all became part of the problem. We don't need raises for them. We need term limits for them.

RedRidden said...

Term limits are not the answer -- a civic-minded, active, educated, aware citizenry is.

There are so many people out there who are fed up with career politicians -- Hartford/Washington "insiders" that cater to special interests instead of to their constituencies -- and rightly so, don't get me wrong. But trying to draw a correlation between how long an elected official is in office and how a.) effective they are at their job, and b.) how "corrupt" they may be simply doesn't hold water. If a legislator is doing a good job and accurately representing the desires of their district, why should they be forced to step down -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it? And if a legislatior IS corrupt and in essence part of the problem, then why can't the voters make their voice heard on Election Day?

It all comes down to accountability...the electorate has a responsibility to hold its public officials accountable for their actions. I really don't think that's all that much to ask.

ALittleBitDramatic said...

Ralphie-

Contractors would be wasted money trying to "buy" members of the General Assembly. No individual member of the General Assembly has enough authority over state contracts to make it worth the cash.

That money would be better spent on the Governor's office and on big city Mayors.

Anonymous said...

Redridden,

I do totally agree with you that we need, " a civic-minded, active, educated, aware citizenry" as you say.......

However I still hold to my feelings that we also need term limits. I understand that may mean that from time to time some really good people must move out of office, but I think the up side is far more than the down side in this case. BTY when I say term limits I am thinking something like 12 years or so. It seems to me that's long enough for anyone worth electing to have made a positive impact. If it takes more than 12 years for that to happen they don't belong there to begin with.

Too many of our races in the General Assembly go unopposed because too many of these guys are entrenched, and are essentially unbeatable. If we had term limits it's my opinion we would see far more interest from far more people.....

Also getting back to the question of this thread regarding pay raises.... Obviously these entrenched politicians are thrilled to stay in office forever for the $28,000/yr ( PLUS benefits) they currently make....So just as obviously it would seem to me it's not the money that keeps new people from running against these guys, it's the fact that the possibility of actually being elected in a race against a long term entrenched incumbent is so small.

Anonymous said...

Higher pay for legislators (within reason mind you) is a great idea. But only if coupled with a prohibition on outside employment. This would get rid of some of the glaring conflicts of interest that exist under the current system.

I've heard more than one instance where a comment was made to the effect that "we can't include that provision because so-and-so works for such-and-such and we need his support." Or the fun one I heard concerning a particularly popular bill and a certain minority leader working on "the other side of the hall" from a major lobbying shop -"he'll just have to tell his boss no on this one."

And of course there are the Democrat legislators I've heard grouse from time to time about their long absence from the governor's mansion because they "should've been a commissioner of something by now."

Sadly, in the 21st century the myth of the "citizen legislator" is just that. A myth. But modestly higher pay (around $50k or so for rank and file) would help attract candidates who are truly in it for public service. Term limits of around 10 years would also be a good idea. Combine higher pay with term limits and you've got the best, maybe only, method of restoring some small bit of the ideal of the "citizen legislator" to 21st century government.

LockCityLiberal said...

I'm very new to this blog, so if I make any errors in the way I post or other things, I apologise.

One of the main things I see, having worked on state and federal campaigns, is the problem with a state campaign is not the compensation. I have known people that have held state office; however, only one or two comments thus far have addressed the issue that it's not the money, it's the time.

Anonymous said...

Slippery slope, this. The conflicts of interest are real, and they're a problem.

But people don't pay enough attention to our gov't now... and we've got police officers arresting reporters and thugging photographers. Imagine what a legislature could do "behind our backs" in a full-time format. I use quotes on "behind our backs" in jest, because everything they do is really right in front of us but we're all too busy consuming and trying to make ends meet to keep an eye on what's happening to our taxes and our rights.