Lawmakers' Salaries Go to Ballot

Phoenix, AZ – Host Intro:

So what is a state lawmaker worth? Voters will get to decide. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

The state constitution requires members of a special commission
to meet every two years and recommend pay hikes for legislators.
For the past three elections they have sought to boost salaries
by $12,000 a year, to $36,000. And each of those times voters
rejected the plan. This time commissioners are hoping that
smaller is better. They are recommending just a $6,000 hike.
Commission chairman Sal Rivera said there are benefits to having
better-paid lawmakers.

(I think it means more people willing to run, more people who may
be in a position to jump in and take the sacrifice that many of
them do already. That's what's the biggest advangage, increasing
the pool and compensating legislators for their extremely hard
work that's taking more time of the year than ever before.)

But House Speaker Jim Weiers said it is wrong to ask voters to
increase lawmakers' pay at a time the state is in a deficit and
trying to reduce the size of government. As to Rivera's point,
Weiers said he hasn't seen any shortage of incumbents seeking
reelection and challengers trying to unseat them.

(It's not exactly that the people are locked into the job for
life. They run for it every two years. They know what the pay is.
And apparently it's tempting enough or enticing enough for people
to go ahead and run for it.

Voters will once again get the last word in November.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.