Raise Our Legislators’ Salaries: Ed is the True Friend of the Legislature

As we start a new year of necessary lawmaking, the upstanding members of our esteemed legislature had the plight of their pittance for legislative work highlighted on NPR.

The fact is: our legislators have a right to gripe and the citizens should advocate for their raise.

While there’s a de facto expectation that our legislature is a part-time job let’s just face reality and acknowledge it isn’t. We also expect our legislators to do a complex job and we can’t attract or retain the talent to perform said job if the compensation doesn’t cover the costs associated with it.

Unless we want to consolidate a massive amount of power with the governor or some technocratic agency (the latter doesn’t sound so bad) we have an untenable situation for citizens who answer the call of public service and want to maintain a positive real life. For the conservatives who say government should operate like a business: show me a successful business that operates with that compensation to work model. You can’t because it doesn’t exist.

From a policy perspective, the current model of payment grossly distorts the perspective of our legislators. Very few people can afford to commit to spending 40 days in Q1 in Atlanta every year. Far fewer can afford to that and additional campaigning and legislative work throughout the year. You end up with the pool of legislators that we have now. If you think that’s representative of Georgia or produces a diverse view point for the state’s citizens… well.

I don’t necessarily have a figure in mind for what legislators should get paid but even if was a bump up to $40,000 (essentially the median household income for Macon, which I would consider a decent, imperfect benchmark for a middle class lifestyle in the majority of Georgia) we’re arguing over .040% of the budget.That’s a rounding error for something that would in theory lead to a better legislature. How is that a bad thing?

The legislature shouldn’t be a path to riches but it shouldn’t impoverish people either. Right now the situation we have doesn’t produce any desirable outcomes either with who can serve, who we attract or what impact we have on the budget. That’s an indefensible argument for our status quo.

 

 

 

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drjaybethebalancegcpedatlantaPM Recent comment authors
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PM
PM

Interesting. So would the proposal also overhaul the pay package to change the $170 per diem, and reimbursements for committee and hearing meetings outside the 40 days? As I understand the idea – we would get better legislators if we pay more to increase the pool willing to come to Atlanta for 40 days. If I understand the concept correctly – can you point to a legislature in the nation where increasing the salaries about 40% has improved the quality of the 100’s of new laws year generated by a part time legislature? Sell us on the idea by showing… Read more »

gcp
gcp

Their total compensation is sufficient. A higher salary guarantees nothing. Atlanta City Council got a significant raise a couple years ago and it accomplished nothing other than ensuring loyalty to Mayor Reed.

bethebalance
bethebalance

perhaps the factor of time should be addressed as well as the factor of money. 40 days of time to ingest and analyze all of the complex issues? (the existing year-round committee work may help this a little..) 40 consecutive days to have to de-prioritize your existing livelihood? perhaps one week a month for eight months would work better? or maybe even one week a month for the entire year? what would be the longest commute into atlanta- 7 hours or so?

drjay
drjay

i considered running for the house back when my legislator retired a few years ago and the financial considerations were a big reason why i decided to pass…i’m not sure raising the salary from 17k to x amt.would have mattered…i did have a former legislator tell me that the 3 months in atl will be hell on my business…i wonder if telecommuting for ctte. meetings and a more broken up schedule…the week here and there might be more workable for a wider variety of folks…