Legislators should make sacrifices too

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This month — the same month in which we can expect to see furloughs and layoffs start to affect state workers — state lawmakers will receive a 1.5 percent “cost of living raise.”

At the close of state business on March 31, most of the state’s lawmakers received salary and expense allowances of $52,646 per year, although a few who refused pay raises received less.

The pay increase — set in place by the last legislature — will increase that pay by $792 per year, for an approximate total of $53,438.

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Many Democrats and a few Republicans pushed through legislation in 2007 that boosted legislators’ pay and expense money by 61 percent and provided them with annual cost-of-living raises. It has raised compensation from $30,710 annually.

To be fair, the 2007 level of compensation probably barely covered the expenses of those who live in the most remote corners of the state and could not commute daily to Montgomery. But it’s difficult to feel bad for someone receiving $52,000 for part-time work when the median household income in Alabama in 2009 was $42,586, or about $10,000 less than legislators are compensated.

Non-incumbents seeking election last year were quick to criticize the legislative pay raise. But an effort by Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) to dial back the raise earlier this year is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.

In the House, Speaker Mike Hubbard stated that the leadership has “discussed some proposals that would scale back legislative pay so that we share in the sacrifice other public employees are making.” No action, so far.

We have a governor working for no salary; an education budget that has been prorated by $163 million; and a general fund budget prorated by $90 million.

Surely, legislators can give a little bit, too.

– The Andalusia Star-News