Md. lawmakers vow to reject proposed pay raise
Members of Maryland's General Assembly will have to vote on whether to give themselves pay raises after a state commission on Tuesday put them in the politically awkward position of saying they should receive about $2,000 more annually.
The General Assembly Compensation Committee said that because lawmakers' salaries have remained the same for nearly four years they should be increased. Due to the ongoing recession, however, those raises should also be tied to the state's economy, the committee said.
If Maryland's unemployment rate falls from its current 7.3 percent to an average of less than 5 percent, lawmakers would begin collecting the higher pay as early as 2013. If the stipulation is not met, the nine-member committee would reconsider lawmaker raises in 2014.
State labor leaders quickly condemned the committee's decision and warned that if members of the General Assembly vote for any higher pay for themselves it would be unpopular -- and perhaps career-ending -- for some. The raises would take effect if the General Assembly takes no action to reject the proposal.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D), issued a joint statement saying that wouldn't happen:
"We have asked state employees and legislators to take furloughs, in order to keep people in the workplace," Busch said. "Now is not the time to accept pay raises for legislators. We respectfully decline the salary recommendation of the commission."
Republican leaders Sen. Allan Kittleman, Del. Anthony O'Donnell, and House minority whip Christopher Shank also issued a statement calling any pay increase inappropriate while lawmakers are searching for nearly $2 billion in cuts to balance next year's budget. The nine-member committee consists of five appointees by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), and four by Democratic legislative leaders.
Members of Maryland's part-time legislature are already paid more than their counterparts in any other state except Hawaii. About 10 states with full-time legislatures pay lawmakers more.
Morgan Cullen, an analyst who tracks lawmakers' pay for the National Council on State Legislatures, said Maryland would be one of only five states to consider raising lawmakers' pay this year. The other four - Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Illinois - index lawmakers' pay to inflation and cost-of-living increases.
Only one state, California, has gone the other way during the recession and decreased lawmakers' pay, Cullen said.
In Maryland, salaries for the state's 188 lawmakers (most of whom have other full-time jobs) have been frozen since 2006 at $43,500 annually. Most are also entitled to about $15,000 in travel and lodging expenses to attend the 90-day legislative session. Last year more than 80 percent claimed the maximum reimbursement.
Aaron C. Davis
January 5, 2010; 5:09 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , Maryland State Budget
Save & Share: Previous: Curry tribute kindles more talk of governor's race
Next: First Click -- Maryland
Posted by: tanishab1399 | January 6, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: tanishab1399 | January 6, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.