Pay the Crooks More

June 12th, 2008 by Editor B

I guess I’m in a very small minority with this opinion, but I actually support our Louisiana state legislature’s efforts to give themselves a huge salary increase. It’s not because I think they deserve a reward them for a job well done. It’s not because I like big government or higher taxes. It’s because when I looked into the prospect of running for the legislature myself (yes, I know, ha ha ha) I have to admit the salary was a nonstarter. I understand public service entails some sacrifices, but the pay really is paltry — a joke. What is it, like $23K? Oh, it’s supposed to be a part-time job, but that’s a joke too.

I certainly understand the kneejerk reaction against the pay raise. But I find myself, surprisingly, in the camp that says we get what we pay for, and maybe if the job paid a decent wage we’d getter a better quality of applicant. In any event, if people are frustrated with the incumbents, they should vote them out of office.

Update: I’ve modified my opinion based on learning more about the issue, in so small part from the many fine comments left on this post. I still think some level of pay raise is appropriate, but this is not the way. It’s not being done right; the devil is in the details. Therefore I oppose the legislation as it is currently being proposed.

19 Responses to “Pay the Crooks More”

  1. E.J. Says:

    I agree 100%. It’s the process I don’t care for. Voting themselves raises while trying to cut frivolous things like health care and higher education doesn’t sit right with me. It seems even more stupid on top of the $300 million tax cut, but if they get a raise in 3 weeks, why don’t we get our tax cut until 2010? And don’t even get me started on Jindal’s hypocritical, two-faced, no-back-boned take on the whole thing.

  2. Civitch Says:

    I agree in principle with the idea of paying legislators (and councilpeople, for that matter) a salary that is high enough to make it possible for most folks to consider running for office.

    But there are important considerations here, namely that this is a part-time job. They’re a-legislatin’ only a few months a year. And they get hefty per diems. And there are still – despite Jindal’s so-called ethics reform package – ridiculously high limits on how much lobbyists can spend on them.

    Here’s a compromise I’d accept: give up your per diems, pay your own way for everything you do (and eat), and you can keep the pay raise.

  3. Civitch Says:

    And another thing: these guys have indexed their future raises to U.S. Congressional pay raises. I am no Louisiana Constitutional scholar, but I am pretty sure that it requires legislators to vote on raises. If that’s correct, then this entire bill is unconstitutional because pay raises would be automatic, and I’m sure there’s a lawyer in this state who will only be too happy to litigate that point. Can’t wait.

  4. Michael Homan Says:

    I would like to have seen someone in Baton Rouge take a stand and say they should not be paid more than public school teachers.

  5. Frank Schiavo Says:

    I understand that the job of being a state legislator is tough, but I am of the opinon that until Teachers get raises to at least above the national average, then the legislators so go withOUT raises. No excuses.

    The reasoning I am hearing on the news for this raise is disgusting too. Not, “We do so much work so we should be paid better,”…even if it was true mind you… but “If you don’t want us to be crooks then pay us better.”

    WTF? It isn’t acheivment raises, it is blackmail. Well, I don’t want our kids to end up criminals and/or leaving the state so we should pay teachers better. How about that one? And Jindal..or as I call him “Gov. Buyer’s Remorse”… should be ashamed of himself for this half-harted play to the choir silliness he has been saying on this issue in the press and should stand up to this kind of foolishness and veto this bill.

    I mean think about it. There are school prinicpals and teachers with master degrees who don’t make 60k a year. Our roads in this state are in crap shape. Health care, unless you can afford it, is next to non-existant. Yet Ann Duplisis and other state Legs are pulling a Robin Hood and taking from the rich…treasury…and giving to the “poor”…themselves. It is sad. And as you can tell it angers me. A lot.

  6. E.J. Says:

    Good points about putting educators first and their reasoning. But considering special sessions, emergencies / disasters, community meetings, responding to constituents, etc. I would guess they pretty much work full time all year; and people expect their legislators to respond to their needs PDQ.

  7. Frolic Says:

    I’m pretty much with Bart on this one. It’s not outrageous and may attract better candidates (be careful what you vote for).

    How do you have a part time job? And who has the luxury of taking this part time job? Seems to really limit the candidates.

    The Picayune said it was a 200% percent raise today in the editorial. From what I can tell, it’s a 100% raise. Did they get confused between two times and 200% percent?

  8. matter Says:

    You’re missing an EXTREMELY important detail in this matter. To wit, legislators are paid a per-diem, in addition to their salary, for every day the legislature is in session. Special sessions count also. There’s also some travel reimbursement. I don’t have the exact numbers at hand, but when the extras are added, the total is around twice the base salary.

  9. mominem Says:

    Voting for a raise for legislators is a horse of a different color from voting for a raise for yourself.

    It would go down much better if there were an intervening election.

    I’m sure that would create a lot of horse trading among the safe and the not safe, but that is the nature of legislation.

    Voting in ones own NAKED SELF INTEREST is simply unseemly. But most of our legislators have long since lost any since of shame or even morality.

    matter is correct the salary is only a portion of the legislators compensation, and they individually control certain perks worth a decent amount of money, like tickets to sporting events and scolorships to private institutions. I don’t think anyone has ever counted the actual compensation of the legislators.

  10. Owen Courrèges Says:

    We don’t have a full-time legislature. We have a part-time legislature, and it works in a very poor state. Total compensation under this new bill will be nearly $70,000 per year — for part-time employment.

    That will make Louisiana legislators the 9th highest paid nationally. I believe the eight states that would beat us all have full-time legislatures.

    So no, it’s not a knee-jerk reaction. Neighboring states pay their legislators less than Louisiana and get much better results. So now we’re supposed to pay them very high compensation for part-time work? That makes no sense whatsoever.

  11. matter Says:

    To follow on mominem’s comment, let’s not forget the “slush funds” aka “discretionary funds” that each legislator gets to allocate.

    A notable example, of course, is the money that Jalila Jefferson “allocated” to “non-profits” controlled by the Jefferson Crime Syndicate. I think it’s safe to assume she wasn’t the only one playing these kinds of games.

  12. Sam Says:

    They are working so hard to pass non helmet laws, a state cocktail, creationism, no smoking in cars with kids, immigration stuff which is only controlled by the Feds, and who will defend the lawsuits which will emerge from this? They work so hard at a lot of nothing and it seems they should apply themselves to laws of substance. And then, maybe then they could have a raise.

  13. celcus Says:

    “…if people are frustrated with the incumbents, they should vote them out of office.”

    Apparently, that is too complicated for most voters.

  14. Frolic Says:

    Ok, I’ve looked at the numbers again that the paper reports. Is it right that the base pay will be three times as much, but when you include all the extras total compensation will be double?

  15. A New Orleans and Louisiana Blog About Politics, Culture, Arts, Lifestlyes and Recovery. Says:

    [...] What Bart Said Posted in Haps on the June 13, 2008 What Bart Said. [...]

  16. Best Of New Orleans Blog » Blog Archive » The lege pay raise: the bloggers chime in Says:

    [...] Editor B: I guess I’m in a very small minority with this opinion, but I actually support our Louisiana state legislature’s efforts to give themselves a huge salary increase. It’s not because I think they deserve a reward them for a job well done. It’s not because I like big government or higher taxes. It’s because when I looked into the prospect of running for the legislature myself (yes, I know, ha ha ha) I have to admit the salary was a nonstarter. I understand public service entails some sacrifices, but the pay really is paltry — a joke. What is it, like $23K? Oh, it’s supposed to be a part-time job, but that’s a joke too. [...]

  17. Ray Ward Says:

    I’m with mominem on this issue. The U.S. Constitution, 27th amendment, allows Congress to vote itself a pay raise, but requires that the raise not take effect until there’s been an intervening election. Although the La. Constitution doesn’t have a similar provision, nothing prevents the Legislature from incorporating a post-election effective date into the pay-raise bill. If they did, then the pay raise would be easier for the Legislature to defend and the voters to accept.

  18. Frank Schiavo Says:

    None of it is easy to defend or swallow. http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=496358 has the text of Ms Dupliss’s bill. And yes, they keep their per deims and travel expenses at the current rate. In one of the five poorest states in the union we have legislators who think nothing of looting state funds meant for economic devlopment, education, public saftey, tourism, hell, even road-way repair and heath care. All under the guise of so called payrasies. And we have a lame assed Govenor without the political clout or cajones to tell them at least that he would veto it…which even if they over-road the veto would at least add some come of bite/backbone to his so called “ethics reform” noise to the press. And the reasons…well we have to pay them more so they won’t steal it or take bribes? It is so much foolishness.

  19. Suspect Device: The Blog » Fiddling while the world burns Says:

    [...] Some don’t have an issue with the pay raise, arguing that a higher salary would attract better candidates, which I find wholly spurious: dumbshits like money too, and are as attracted by high salaries as are smartypantses. And I really don’t think Louisiana should be advancing the notion that politics is a bug-bucks career move. We obviously have to pay legislators some fair amount, but I firmly believe the only hope for Louisiana to crawl from the political tar pit it’s in is to rebuild the idea of elected office as a public service and obligation of citizenship. [...]

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