‘Horrific timing’: 11.2% pay raise for Washington lawmakers

Vatic Note:  The first part of this blog is an email message from a sender to me and is his words,  but then the rest is a video and an article written by the Associated Press.   So keep that in mind as you read,  one is an email message and the latter are from news sources.   My comment on it, is "This is no surprise to me."  

He is right about the low pay for local and some state workers, while the elected officials are at the top of the pay grade list,  but in this case these elected officials for running a major corporation, are really paid a pittance for what they do.  No wonder lobbyists find it easy to entice them over to the dark side. We either compete in the pay dept or have another revolution.  

I think its much cheaper to pay them.  Its one of those subjects that I could go either way on, depending on what their salaries were today before the pay raise.  Compared to other states and local communities,  their pay is very low.  Having said all that,  its not the case for the governor.  His salary was fully in line with other states, so his was more justified in questioning it. 

'Horrific timing': 11.2% pay raise for Washington lawmakers
Published on Jan 23, 2015

How county prosecutors interpret the law to exempt themselves and all other county officials from paying the mandatory filing fees for filing their Oath of Office into the official public records as mandated by the state legislature. All county offices are vacate for failure to "duly qualify". See RCW 42.20.030 a gross misdemeanor.

Public "servants" have no problems raising the gas tax on all of use who use the roads.  They receive huge pay raises yet none of them can prove they are compliant with state law and are collectively exempting themselves from paying the mandatory Auditor's filing fees for their oath of office at both the County and State level. Tim Gray, Stevens County Auditor, say the filing fees just got too expensive. Hear it from his own lips.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDPRjdorCpo
I'll bet the independent citizen salary commission members can count on being invited to the Governor's Ball and other similar parties held in Olympia and elsewhere throughout the state. 

Be sure to read the attached news clipping from the Spokane Spokesman-Review that was sent to me with some handwritten comments. 

‘Horrific timing’: 11.2% pay raise for Washington lawmakers

Originally published May 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm Updated May 14, 2015 at 7:53 am
The state’s citizens’ salary commission has approved pay hikes for elected officials, including an 11 percent raise for state lawmakers.

OLYMPIA — Many people would be thrilled to get an 11 percent pay raise over two years.   But if you’re a Washington state lawmaker, stuck in a special session over budget disagreements and likely to hand out far smaller pay hikes to teachers and state workers, it’s kind of awkward.

Regardless, legislators are on tap to get an 11.2 percent pay raise, courtesy of the state’s independent citizen salary commission.

“Horrific timing,” said Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater. 

The Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials — which has sole authority to set pay for lawmakers and statewide elected officials — approved a series of pay increases on Wednesday that also included the governor and judges.“It’s just an incredibly awkward situation,” said Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg.

The commission, a nonpartisan group of citizens from the state’s 10 congressional districts, as well as other experts, approved the increase for legislators on a 10-5 vote.

“We thought there was some catching up to do,” board member Melissa Albert said. “We don’t want to have a Legislature made up of only people who are independently wealthy.”

The initial pay bumps would go into effect Sept. 1, unless the decision is challenged by a citizens referendum.

The raise — the first since 2008 and fleshed out over months of study and discussion — came after two proposals for smaller increases for state lawmakers failed.

The new pay schedule comes as legislators are halfway through a special session to negotiate a two-year state operating budget that is expected to include raises for state workers and teachers far short of 11 percent.

Negotiated or arbitrated contracts, which must be approved by lawmakers, would raise most state worker pay by about 5 percent over two years. Reykdal said lawmaker salaries shouldn’t be set until after the Legislature decides on those contracts and teacher pay increases.

Manweller said there were good intentions behind setting up the independent salary commission to depoliticize lawmaker pay, but, “I don’t know if it’s worked.”

“This is a situation where I did not ask for it (a raise), I have no control over it,” he said. “And yet I am going to get beat up for it, regardless.”

Ranked 14th

The new pay schedule increases the pay of a legislator to $46,839 a year by September 2016. They currently make $42,106. The four legislators in leadership earn $4,000 to $8,000 annually more.

In arriving at pay, the commission looks at a wealth of data, including compensation for lawmakers in other states and cost-of-living studies.

Gregory Dallaire, a salary- commission member, said it would be a different matter to give such a large pay hike if all lawmakers were making $50,000 or $60,000 a year.  But, “the salary’s low already,” Dallaire said.

In 2014, Washington state lawmakers ranked 14th nationally in annual pay, according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Comparing states is tricky: Some states have full-time legislators while others are in session less than Washington state. 

Washington’s is considered a part-time Legislature. This year’s regular, budget-writing session lasted 105 days, and lawmakers are now in the middle of a 30-day special session trying to finish the job.

Legislators in California earn the most: $90,526 a year. In New Mexico, lawmakers draw no salary and get $159 a day for expenses while in session, known as a per diem. 

Many states offer a per diem in addition to salaries; in Washington, lawmakers can claim $120 a day for expenses.

You can judge the sentiment among some people over the pay raises by the number of capitalized words found in the written public comments collected by the salary commission.

“They can have the same percentage those cheapskates are going to give the REAL state workers,” wrote one commenter.

Wrote another: “CANNOT FUND education programs to reduce class sizes — BUT there is money in the coffers for an 11.2% raise. Wow. Government is NOT about the people anymore, is it.”

While not advocating for any particular proposal, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Sharon Nelson, of Maury Island, told the commission in January that competitive pay helps retain lawmakers and the expertise they develop to work on complicated issues.

Without that expertise, Nelson said, special-interest lobbyists gain greater influence in Olympia.

“It’s a check and balance that comes into play daily,” she said.

4% for Inslee

The commission also approved raises for all nine statewide elected officials, as well as state Supreme Court justices and Superior Court, District Court and Court of Appeals judges.

Gov. Jay Inslee will receive a 4 percent increase over two years, to $173,617 from the current salary of $166,891.

The new salary schedule will likely be delivered to the state Secretary of State’s Office sometime in late May, according to David Ammons, spokesman for the office.

At that point, members of the public wishing to challenge the decision have a 90-day window to file a referendum and collect 124,000 signatures to put the issue on the November general-election ballot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Joseph O'Sullivan

The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

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