We were getting ready to write an editorial objecting to the fact that members of the state legislature have the power to increase their pay — Wouldn’t you like to have that ability? — when word came down that the Senate had decided against it and the House declined to consider a similar bill.
The Senate voted 33-20 to reject Senate Bill 252, with some Republicans saying lawmakers don’t need a raise.
Base pay for the 180 House members and 56 senators would have risen from $16,200 a year to $29,908.
“I do think that our salaries are too low, but I do think that moving us to a salary that is in line with full-time Georgians is not reflective of the work that we do in three months at the Capitol,” said Sen. Greg Dolezal, a Republican from Cumming.
The pay of state legislators and statewide officials may indeed be too low currently, but who are the legislators to make that call? Talk about a conflict of interest.
Lawmaker pay hasn’t changed since 1999, according to the State Compensation Commission, The Associated Press reported.
The commission studies and recommends compensation for state officers and members of the legislature. Why not create a commission to decide whether state lawmakers and state officers should get an increase in pay? Surely that would be better than the lawmakers making that determination themselves.
“Those who support pay raises say many people can’t afford to seek election because of low pay, and that what is supposed to be a part-time job eats up a lot of time even when lawmakers aren’t in Atlanta,” The Associated Press reported.
Well, the current group of lawmakers knew what the pay was when they ran for office. It’s a little hollow to hear them complain about the pay once they are there.
That is not to say they may not have a legitimate argument. They are just not the ones who should decide the result.
So we congratulate those senators who voted to reject the pay raise. It would have been unseemly for them to have voted to increase their own pay.
That should be the responsibility of an independent body, perhaps appointed by the governor, so that our representatives and senators who are there to work on our behalf aren’t there working on theirs.