Voters Get to Decide Legislative Pay Raises

Jun 4, 2012

Governor Jan Brewer is not going to block the chance for voters to decide this year if lawmakers should get a pay hike. 

The constitution envisions a public vote every two years on legislative pay. That first requires a special commission to meet to make a recommendation. But two years ago the governor refused to appoint her members, thwarting the whole discussion. An aide said at the time Brewer did not believe discussing a pay hike was appropriate. But press aide Matthew Benson said his boss WILL make her appointments this year.

"The governor believes that it's an appropriate time for the commission to come together and issue its recommendations in terms of whether there should be a pay increase or not. But she herself is not prejudging that issue," Benson said.

Former commission members Sal Rivera said it is long past time to consider a raise from the current $24,000 a year.

"I think it's necessary," Rivera said. "We're beyond the days of truly a part-time Legislature, in my opinion. And you've got people down there who are working extremely hard year round."

But voters, who get the last word, rejected going to $36,000 in 2006. And a scaled-back $30,000 proposal was rejected two years later. Randie Stein, another former commissioner, said the key is finding  a figure that recognizes the work lawmakers do but no so large that it's -- quote -- scaring off the electorate.