State legislators in Kansas are highlighting one of the biggest reasons so many people dislike politicians after it was revealed they are getting a whopping 93 percent pay raise.
Whatever the justification for this humongous pay increase, whether there is a good reason for it or not, Kansans are simply not going to view a 93 percent salary boost for their elected officials as anything other than an outrage and a prime example of arrogant government waste.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2025, the base pay rate for Kansas lawmakers will go from $21,000 a year to $43,000, according to the Kansas Reflector. This rises to $57,000 when the usual amenities and reimbursement for expenses, and other emoluments are applied.
Not bad for a part-time job.
It also doesn’t help that the pay raise plan was a bipartisan proposal that came from a commission assembled to review the pay rates that Kansas legislators were paid. The commission made some Kansas voters feel that the fix was in all along.
After the group’s deliberations, Mark Hutton, the chairman of the Legislative Compensation Commission — himself a former Republican member of the state House — recommended that the state give lawmakers a $21,000 base pay raise, according to the Reflector.
The commission made up of Hutton and eight former members of the Legislature voted unanimously to recommend the taxpayer-funded pay raise.
Hutton said the commission’s decision was not a “political” one and the percentage of the hike was not the point they talked about.
“To be clear, I did not approach this responsibility with the intention of arriving at a political solution,” he told the Senate budget committee on Tuesday. “While the commission reviewed the current compensation, we had little discussion about the size of the increase, choosing to reflect on what it should be.”
Is this the right time for lawmakers to give themselves a raise?
Indeed, Hutton and his commission members tied the new pay scale to the average annual wage of Kansas employees reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also recommended that the pay scale increase in direct relation to the average Kansas citizen’s wage increases.
The commission’s pay raise suggestion — which affects all 165 state legislators — was to be automatically accepted and put into place by Jan. 1, 2025, unless both the state House and Senate objected to the scheme by Jan. 31. And since neither made such an objection last week, the new pay scale will begin on time.
The commission was launched last year when the Legislature decided it would be preferable to having sitting elected officials vote on a pay hike.
Kansas politicians have bitterly complained for years that their compensation is too low to live on and their legislative duties often leave them little time for a real job to keep them going. Some Democrats have even claimed a pay hike will bring more minorities into the state government.
There was very little opposition to the commission’s recommendations.
“I think it’s fair,” said Wichita Republican and House Speaker Dan Hawkins, according to The Associated Press. “I think that the commission did, really, a pretty good job.”
“You might get a few more females,” said Sen. Cindy Holscher, a Democrat. “You might get a few more minorities. You might get a few more younger people.”
But not everyone in Kansas agreed with the pay raise. Nick Reinecker, who has been a candidate for a House seat, urged the lawmakers to raise their voices against the plan.
“When you stand up and say your oath to God and say you’re going to sacrifice for God, family and country, it’s not supposed to be a job,” Reinecker said, according to the Reflector. “It should be a passion. I want you to be a citizen Legislature.”
Republican state Rep. Ken Corbet of Topeka tried to get the Legislature to turn to the voters with the pay raise question, noting that usually it is “the boss” who decides pay raises.
“Apparently, there was not an appetite for that,” he said, according to the AP.
Many on social media were incensed.
Full time pay for part time work. Once again the people of Kansas are screwed… 93% pay raise for lawmakers… https://t.co/f7TEQQ208a
— Dr. K ????????⚓ (@tealkra) February 9, 2024
Kansas lawmakers are giving themselves a 93% pay raise next year. Wow. THIS IS NOT OK.
— Merzdotz7 (@Merzdotz71) February 8, 2024
Kansas State Legislators voted themselves a 93% pay raise, yet Ks public educator retirees haven’t had a COLA in over 20 years??!!!! What the actual. …????
— Robin Gaschler (@eargeek) February 9, 2024
Our government in a nutshell.https://t.co/iMbgsaqQBb
— Brad Swan (@BradSwan18) February 9, 2024
While it is true that Kansas should offer its lawmakers a salary that might lead to more quality candidates running for office, floating this massive pay raise at a time when so many residents are struggling to get by is a pretty tone-deaf maneuver.
The move also increases the distaste that Americans have for their legislators at a time when trust in government is at all-time lows.
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