Legislative pay cut, impossible you say, think again
Could this be the start of a strange but wonderful trend? Congressman vote themselves pay raises all of the time. It is considered standard operating procedure. The same thing happens in most state legislatures. However, 3 states are trending in the other direction. New Hampshire, Illinois and California actually cut legislative pay, well, soft of.
Image you are a volunteer fireman You get paid $100 per year for your time. That’s what New Hampshire legislators make, plus some minor benefits like gas money. However, Cannon Mountain is owned by the New Hampshire state government for some reason. There used to be a long standing practice to allow legislators to ski the mountain for free. Someone figured out that the practice violated state law and as of January of this year, legislators are no longer allowed to ski for free. That might seem like small potatoes but the average legislator was receiving $28.65 a year in free skiing. That’s equal to 28% of the yearly base salary of a legislator in New Hampshire. Imagine if your pay was cut by that much!
Illinois is another state where the legislature sort of cut pay. Times have been hard for the people of Illinois. Recently, the legislature increased the corporate income tax by 45%, the personal income tax by 66% and the cigarette tax by 100%. The Illinois legislature wanted to let the people know that it understands the pain of austerity, so it decided to cut the length of the legislative session by 6 days as a show of solidarity with the taxpayers. That means the legislators will be paid for 6 less days in 2013 than they were paid for in 2012.
There is serious concern that California may need federal bailouts. It seems like every week another California city files for bankruptcy. Guessing which California city files for bankruptcy has become an internet fad. California, where state legislators make more money than in any other state, is actually doing something right for a change and cutting legislative salaries. The cuts are minor but it is significant to note that only 4 legislatures will make over $100,000 as their base salary next year. If California cut pay by 50% and became inline with the average state, perhaps there would be hope that things could actually turn around in California.