Pay raise for state legislators kicks in

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

At the same time they are working through extremely tight budgets, which include some staff employment cutbacks, state legislators received a pay raise Wednesday — a pay raise voted on and put into effect two years ago.

In 2007, legislators approved a measure that would tie annual increases to the Consumer Price Index. At the time the measure was passed, legislators did not have a systematic way of approving raises and used the inflationary tool to rationalize annual raises.

“It provides a way of measuring annual raises to annual inflation,” State Rep. Jimmy Martin said Wednesday. “This measure was passed two years ago and the law calls for these increases each year.”

This year’s increase, which is tied to CPI, pushes the Legislature’s basic compensation to $52,600 annually — an increase of about $1,800.

According to Martin, the annual salary provided to legislators is an effort to allow them to break even while serving in the Legislature.

“If you’re coming to Montgomery to get rich, you’re in bad shape or in the penitentiary,” Martin said. “Eleven years ago when I started coming to Montgomery, you could get a hotel rate at $45 per night. Now, the legislative rate is around $95 plus tax.”

In an Associated Press report Wednesday, State Rep. Jay Love said the increase sends a bad message because of cutbacks being made throughout state government.

On the other hand, State Sen. Roger Bedford said the annual, incremental increases are better each year than a major increase after a long period without a raise.