Pay-raise debate not settled

Posted by Max Reiss – bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – Alabama lawmakers have yet to address an issue many campaigned on: the legislative pay-raise passed back in 2006.

Back then lawmakers made about $30,000 in compensation and expenses and the raise upped it to the $40,000 range. The next year it increased to more than $50,000 in annual compensation and expenses.  There was also an annual 1.5% Cost of Living Increase built into the bill as well for lawmakers, designed to adjust with inflation.

"We never promised we would repeal it" said House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R – Auburn).

Hubbard explained however that he disagreed with the pay-increase in principle when the Democratic controlled legislature passed five years ago.

Some lawmakers, Hubbard and Senate President Pro-Tem Del Marsh included, have turned down the additional cost of living adjustment and simply receive the previous year's legislative compensation.

One proposal is that of Sen. Paul Sanford, a first-term lawmaker, who anticipated the current compensation level when he ran for office. Sanford proposes adjusting legislative compensation at the rate of proration, to coincide with the same cuts General Fund agencies suffer.

Another came from Sen. Gerald Dial(R – Lineville) who proposed repealing the pay back to 2006 levels.

Rep. Hubbard said he agreed with the proration idea. He also said "you will likely see some combination of that" referring to some sort of roll-back of legislative compensation as well.

Governor Robert Bentley who once served in the legislature as a member of the House of Representatives urged lawmakers last week to address the pay-raise issue.

"There should be a good-faith effort on their part to show the people of the state if they're asking them to sacrifice, they should sacrifice some" Bentley said.

Neither proposals, the proration idea, nor the repeal have made it to the House or Senate Floor.

At several House and Senate hearings relating to state employees, many state workers have voiced their displeasure with lawmakers over their pay-raise not being addressed in the early going of the session.

Hubbard said their concerns will be addressed as the Senate and House come up with a plan they agree upon on how to satisfy the new lawmakers opposed to changing compensation and the ones who vowed to do something about it.

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