Dallas County legislators receive automatic pay raise

Published 9:22 am Monday, April 21, 2014

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A majority of Alabama legislators — including all three of those representing Dallas County in the Legislature — accepted an automatic pay raise this spring, the last one they will receive under a controversial 2007 pay raise resolution.

Legislators receive an annual raise in their monthly expense allowance to reflect any increase in the federal consumer price index. This year that equates to 1.5 percent increase. Lawmakers, unless they sent letters to legislative staff declining the raise, will receive an additional $66 a month beginning later this month.

Lawmakers’ total compensation is about $56,868, assuming they have taken the automatic increases available to them over the years, according to information from the House of Representatives.

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Sixty-six of the state’s 104 sitting representatives accepted the raise, while 38 declined it, according to numbers provided by the clerk of the House of Representatives.

Twenty-one of the 35 senators also declined the raise, according to data from the Alabama Senate. The other 14 senators will receive the raise, the secretary of the Senate said. Of those 14, nine returned letters to the secretary of the Senate accepting the raise and another five did not return a letter saying either way.

Lawmakers this spring approved education and General Fund budgets that did not include cost of living adjustments, or COLAS, for school and state government employees after saying that revenue was too lean to support the increases. State government employees received a one-time $400 bonus. Teachers had received a 2 percent raise the previous year.

“I think it’s ridiculous that the legislators took automatic COLA increases while telling state employees and teachers that they couldn’t have a raise,” said Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville. Taylor was one of the lawmakers who did not accept the increase.

However, the raise for the legislators costs only a sliver of what a pay increase for teachers or state employees would cost.

Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, accepted the raise saying that lawmakers barely break even with what they pay for travel, lodging and other expenses.

“They can say it’s a part-time job all they want, but it’s a full-time job,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the pay shouldn’t be so low that only wealthy people can afford to serve in the Alabama Legislature.

Legislators are currently paid under a convoluted system that dates back to when lawmakers traveled by train to Montgomery.

They get a $10-a-day salary, $50 per day in expense money during session meeting days, a monthly expense allowance and mileage based on railroad miles for one round-trip to Montgomery each session.

Lawmakers in 2007 approved a resolution that increased their compensation by 61 percent and set up the system of annual raises. Then-Gov. Bob Riley vetoed the raise, but legislators overrode the veto.

After the November legislative elections, lawmakers will have a new pay structure under a constitutional amendment that voters approved in 2012.

The new pay structure will give lawmakers a base salary equal to the state’s median household income, which the U.S. Census Bureau estimated at $41,574 in 2012.

Additionally, they would be paid a daily expense allowance and mileage, equal to what state employees get for travel expenses.

Taylor, who sponsored the change, said legislators pay would go up when the median household income increases, and down when it declines. He said the new structure will cut lawmakers’ compensation.

“It’s like performance pay. It directly ties legislator pay to the quality of life of the people they are serving,” Taylor said.

Voters would have to amend the state constitution to alter the legislative pay structure. Taylor said that would prevent lawmakers from “voting themselves a pay raise ever again.”


Breakdown of who accepted and declined automatic pay raise

(AP) — A narrow majority of Alabama Legislators have accepted an automatic pay increase available to them this spring. Lawmakers automatically get the raise unless they returned letters earlier this month asking not to receive it.

Alabama House of Representatives

House members declining the raise:

Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn

Richard Baughn, R-Lynn

Elaine Beech, D-Chatom

K.L. Brown, R-Jacksonville

Mac Buttram, R-Cullman

Steve Clouse, R-Ozark

Terri Collins, R-Decatur

Randy Davis, R-Daphne

Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood

Allen Farley, R-McCalla

Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville

Alan Harper, R-Newport

Ed Henry, R-Decatur

Steve Hurst, R-Munford

Ken Johnson, R-Moulton

Ron Johnson, R-Sylacauga

Wayne Johnson, R-Ryland

Mike Jones, R-Andalusia

Paul Lee, R-Dothan

Wes Long, R-Guntersville

Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery

Jim McClendon, R-Springville

Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville

John Merrill, R-Tuscaloosa

Barry Moore, R-Enterprise

Johnny Mack Morrow, D-Red Bay

Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville

Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery

Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa

Kerry Rich, R-Albertville

Bill Roberts, R-Jasper

David Sessions, R-Grand Bay

Harry Shiver, R-Bay Minette

Mark Tuggle, R-Alexander City

Lesley Vance, R-Phenix City

Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville

April Weaver, R-Alabaster

Dan Williams, R-Athens


House members accepting the raise:

Alan Baker, R-Brewton

Mike Ball, R-Madison

George Bandy, D-Opelika

Paul Beckman, R-Prattville

Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia

Daniel Boman, D-Sulligent

Alan Boothe, R-Troy

Barbara Boyd, D-Anniston

Napoleon Bracy, D-Prichard

Duwayne Bridges, R-Valley

Greg Burdine, D-Florence

James Buskey, D-Mobile

Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City

Jim Carns, R-Mountain Brook

Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva

Adline Clarke, D-Mobile

Merika Coleman-Evans, D-Pleasant Grove

David Colston, D-Hayneville

Dickie Drake, R-Leeds

Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa

Joe Faust, R-Fairhope

Chad Fincher, R-Semmes

Craig Ford, D-Gadsden

Berry Forte, D-Eufaula

Victor Gaston, R-Mobile

Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham

Todd Greeson, R-Ider

Dexter Grimsley, D-Newville

Laura Hall, D-Huntsville

Micky Hammon, R-Decatur

Mike Hill, R-Columbiana

Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery

Mike Holmes, R-Wetumpka

Ralph Howard, D-Greensboro

Joe Hubbard, D-Montgomery

Jamie Ison, R-Mobile

Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville

Anthony Johnson, D-Birmingham

John Knight, D-Montgomery

Richard Laird, I-Roanoke

Richard Lindsey, D-Centre

Lawrence McAdory, D-Bessemer

A.J. McCampbell, D-Livingston

Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs

Steve McMillan, R-Bay Minette

Darrio Melton, D-Selma

Mike Millican, R-Hamilton

Joseph Mitchell, D-Mobile

Mary Moore, D-Birmingham

Charles Newton, R-Greenville

Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden

Arthur Payne, R-Trussville

John Robinson, D-Scottsboro

Oliver Robinson, D-Birmingham

John Rogers, D-Birmingham

Howard Sanderford, R-Huntsville

Rod Scott, D-Fairfield

Randall Shedd, R-Cullman

David Standridge, R-Hayden

Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham

Allen Treadaway, R-Morris

Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee

Margie Wilcox, R-Mobile

Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills

Phil Williams, R-Huntsville

Randy Wood, R-Anniston


Alabama Senate

Senators declining the raise:

Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa

Scott Beason, R-Gardendale

Dick Brewbaker, R-Pike Road

Paul Bussman, R-Cullman

Gerald Dial, R-Lineville

Rusty Glover, R-Semmes

Bill Hightower, R-Mobile

Jimmy Holley, R-Elba

Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison

Tammy Irons, D-Florence

Del Marsh, R-Anniston

Shad McGill, R-Scottsboro

Arthur Orr, R-Decatur

Greg Reed, R-Jasper

Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville

Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville

Harri Anne Smith, I-Slocomb

Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville

Cam Ward, R-Alabaster

Tom Whatley, R-Auburn

Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City


Senators accepting the raise:

Billy Beasley, D-Clayton

Slade Blackwell, R-Mountain Brook

Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham

Priscilla Dunn, D-Bessemer

Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile

Trip Pittman, R-Montrose

Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro

Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham

Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills


Senators who did not return a letter and thus will get the raise:

Roger Bedford, D-Russellville

Jerry Fielding, R-Sylacauga

Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill

Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery

Hank Sanders, D-Selma