Archive for Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pay raise expected to boost Capitol diversity

Current salary said to attract certain types; solution uncertain

August 16, 2007


— Concerned that only the rich and retired can afford to serve in the Kansas Legislature, lawmakers are considering how they can raise their pay without getting scorched politically.

On Wednesday, the Legislative Budget Committee said it would look at a proposal by Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, that would establish a commission to set legislative pay. The commission's recommendations would take effect unless the Legislature rejected them.

State Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, and chairwoman of the House-Senate Legislative Budget Committee, said legislative pay needed to be increased so that younger people could serve.

"We can't just have all retired people or well-to-do people serve in the Legislature," Schwartz said.

State Rep. Lee Tafanelli, R-Ozawkie, also a member of the budget committee, urged caution and more study of how other states arrived at their pay levels for legislators.

"Whatever we do needs to be a rational approach rather than just pull a number out of the air," he said.

Kansas legislators make approximately $8,823 per year. They also receive approximately $17,008 per year in expenses.

The salary of Kansas lawmakers ranks 43rd nationally in legislative compensation, according to information collected by the Kansas Legislative Research Department. And when adjusted for inflation, Kansas lawmakers are now making 45 percent less than they did in 1975.

But there is a wide variance in how legislators from different states are paid and how much work they do.

Nine states have what are considered professional legislatures where lawmakers typically spend the majority of their time on legislative business and have no outside employment. Eighteen states, including Kansas, are considered to have citizen legislatures, and 23 states have a mixture of the two.

State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said lawmakers should also compare other forms of compensation among different states.

For instance, Kansas lawmakers may participate in the state retirement and group health insurance programs.

The budget committee said it would consider Morris' bill and make a recommendation to the full Legislature, which meets in January.

During the last legislative session, state Rep. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, proposed tying legislative pay to federal poverty guidelines based on family size.

Masterson quickly retreated from the proposal after a public backlash, saying he was only trying to make the point that because legislative pay was so low, working-class men and women can seldom run for office.

On Wednesday, Schwartz agreed, saying without more working people in the Legislature, public policy is skewed.


oldgoof 10 years, 5 months ago

I am all for paying more so we can get some legislators who know how to read, write and do math.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 5 months ago

Reduce the number of state reps from 125 to 45 and the number of state senators from 30 to 15.

jasonc_22 10 years, 5 months ago

increase there pay AND the number in both chambers...I want more attention from more dedicated people.

deec 10 years, 5 months ago

The current rates would be a pay raise for many "working class" people, if only there weren't that pesky constant fundraising in order to get elected in the first place.

Farmboy 10 years, 5 months ago

Raise their pay, but do away with their retirement plan which is a real rip-off and the main reason most serve. For retirement purposes, their current pay is annualized, figured as if they worked 52 weeks a year. So these guys can retire with fairly big bucks for working about three months a year.

Criminal. The dirty little secret they do not talk about.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 10 years, 5 months ago

Working class men and women don't run for office because it costs too much to run, and when they do they're trashed by the media as being joke candidates. Instead we run attorneys, arguably the most ethically disreputable occupation on the face of the planet.

The only thing you get by paying more is a candidate pool that's interested in money. Thanks guys, we've already got an abundance of those.

Run MM run. Listen to your mother.

toefungus 10 years, 5 months ago

So, pay on a sliding scale. If your rich you get less than if you are poor. This program is known as "No legislator left behind." Of course, they will have to submit to a test at least twice a session.

sinedie 10 years, 5 months ago


I guess I COULD vote for someone else if I didn't like my representative. I COULD run myself if I wanted to.

But really I'm too busy to do either of those things. It is much easier to complain about how inept my government is.

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 5 months ago

Our legislators are woefully underpaid for what we expect of them. This much is true.

In addition to finding ways to encourage a more diverse legislature, I would also like to find better candidates to run. Articulate people who can think well. People who aren't afraid to vote one way or another, then stand up to you and me when we complain and say "we looked at the short-term impacts, long-term impacts, the needs of our State and its citizens, and this was the best policy decision available to us. I made this vote knowing some of my constituents wouldn't like it, and I'm not afraid of the consequences." We have too few of those in our legislature.

Actually, I would readily vote for someone just honest enough to say to me "I don't know that I'll be as good a legislator as the person I'm running against; I'm only doing this for ego."

Confrontation 10 years, 5 months ago

I'd like to see all campaign fundraising end. Give each candidate $1,000 to run his/her campaign. If they can do that, then we'll know that we have someone with a little business sense who knows how to get the most bang for the buck.

admireed 10 years, 5 months ago

Cut meeting to 10 days a year. Paying more just gets MORE old farts to run. If one really cares to serve they will find a way

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