MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Job cuts, potential school closings, companies going belly-up; They're all tangible signs of a painful recession and because of the recession, some are wondering whether Alabama lawmakers should re-think the huge pay raise they gave themselves two years ago.
"Oh I thought about it..." Faye Boleing says adding, "how many people get a 60% raise at any time?" Leigh Brookhyser was in disagreement, "I think they should leave it alone...that's a long time [16 years] to go without a raise."
A staggering 60 percent pay raise for the Alabama Legislature in 2006 and the man responsible for it says, "No, I don't apologize for it..." Representative and Speaker Pro tem Demetrius Newton (D) of Birmingham has no apologies for raising the pay for each of his fellow lawmakers by more than $18,000, no regrets even though the country is in the midst of a deep recession.
"I don't have any [regrets] because I didn't have a crystal ball at that time..." Newton says from his office. "When you add the other 49 states that have legislative retirement, have staff and have health insurance furnished by the government, 62% gets to be almost zero."
To be fair, up until two years ago lawmakers had not had a pay raise in 16 years. Still, some feel - considering the times - this is absolutely the right time to either repeal the raise or at the very least reduce it.
Arthur Perkins, an Alabama voter, says "If we need to get Alabama back going again, that's what we need to do."
When you add it all up, that pay raise equates to an additional $2.6 million in salaries for lawmakers, arguably enough dough to help some agencies to deal with proration.
On the first day of the new legislative session, Speaker Pro tem Newton wasn't aware of any proposals to wipe out or reduce the pay raise. But, if something were to come down the pike you can count on him oppose it.
And now another pay raise for lawmakers. A 3% raise that's tied in with the consumer price index.