Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Effort Underway to Increase the Pay of Our Politicians

Representative Micheal Lamoureux has filed a request to consider allowing the legislature to set Executive Branch salaries, rather than using amendment 70 which allows only CPI adjustments to the constitutionally authorized levels.

Here is a great link from "Under the Dome" comparing Governor's salaries with links to the official residences for each state that provides one. The Dome also provided a look at Attorney General salaries among the states.

Now even though Arkansas ranks 48th in pay for both offices, you might think that a crumudgeon like me would reflexively oppose a suggestion that executive pay be increased. Especially since the highest paid Governor in the nation on that link (because Arn-old does not take his full salary) is now disgraced former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer. I think client number nine was very much overpaid, but that's NY's problem.

As far as our Attorney General Dustin McDaniel being near the bottom goes: $70,000 is more than an AG who waits until the last day (twice) to tell petition sponsors they have to re-word their petition is worth. Still, maybe higher salaries will attract a high caliber of candidate for public office. Maybe if we gave them a higher official salary they would work for us, instead of working for the business interests who can offer more money later on to politicians who look out for them while in office.

It is true amendment 70 needs to be fixed, because it ties all Executive Branch raises to the Feds CPI numbers. The federal government's inflation numbers are lies, and everyone with any sense knows it. Adjusting to what the feds claim inflation is will reduce the real buying power of salaries over time. An adjustment is needed that does not rely on the Federal Government being honest.

There is a way to raise officeholder pay without increasing the already high resentment against the political class. The total income of all state income tax filers should be easy to find, and state spending and borrowing are known. Compare them and you have a ration of our earnings to government consumption.

I propose that every bi-annual budget where the ratio of total earnings to state spending and borrowing gets bigger that elected officials get a 10% raise over and above the cost of living adjustment. This would continue until the wages of Arkansas officials were equal to 90% of the average of those of comparable officials in the states surrounding us.

Should the earnings to government spending and borrowing ratio decrease, then you don't even get the cost of living adjustment, much less the 10%.

Right now, special interests are rewarding them when they get more money out of your pocket and give it to them. Let's turn that around and reward them if they take less money out of our pocket for a change.


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