Lawmakers vote to cancel their own cost-of-living adjustment

Athens – State lawmakers voted this morning to cancel a scheduled pay increase for members of the General Assembly for at least a year.

The Legislative Services Committee, a special joint panel of members of the House and Senate and key staff, voted unanimously to put off the cost of living adjustment until at least Dec. 31, 2011.

Lawmakers are gathered here at the University of Georgia for a three-day conference in advance of the beginning of the next legislative session on Jan. 10.

The Legislative Services Committee, chaired by Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, sets financial policy for the General Assembly and its employees and agrees to contracts with outside agencies.

Ralston said the motion to cancel the pay raise was “very appropriate.”

Members of the General Assembly earn a base salary of $17,342, in addition to $173 a day for expenses when on official business, including days in session and for committee work. Top lawmakers, including the House speaker and other officers, earn more.

The cost of living adjustment would have boosted lawmakers’  base salary by 3 percent. The increase would have cost the state $63,000.

54 comments Add your comment

Class of '98

December 13th, 2010
10:44 am

((((42-34))))) We run this state

bug

December 13th, 2010
10:45 am

What your liberal newspaper will NOT print is the total amount of our tax money each one gets per year by adding on the cost of serving on those committies.

They go somewhere hold a little meeting or take a field trip and then hit the golf course for a few days and we pick up the tab.

khc

December 13th, 2010
10:46 am

yea great job your doing

Toby

December 13th, 2010
10:50 am

I guess cola is figured an other way for seniors.

dick

December 13th, 2010
10:57 am

how about the waste in Washington, will they do same?

AtlantaDerek

December 13th, 2010
11:05 am

$17,342 ? ….is this number correct?

scott

December 13th, 2010
11:05 am

Frightening that some folks think AJC.com is a ‘liberal newspaper’.

Road Scholar

December 13th, 2010
11:09 am

scott: What is more frightning is that some people think that they think! Regurgitating Fox news is not thinking!

hadit

December 13th, 2010
11:19 am

Thanks for nothing. I have worked 30+ years for this state. I have been furloughed a day a month for the past two years and have not seen any kind of raise in over three years. The legistlators are definitely not worth the cost of keeping them up.

atlantaallen

December 13th, 2010
11:19 am

$173 a day. Most regular state employees who have to travel on business get $28 a day for meals when staying away overnight. I consider a Hampton Inn luxury accommodations and I do not stay overnight or file for meal reimbursement when traveling within a few hours of home. Are metro area legislators getting per diem when they sleep at or near their homes?

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 13th, 2010
11:49 am

@AtlantaDerek (11:05 a.m.) Yes, that’s their annual salary

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 13th, 2010
11:50 am

@bug (10:45 a.m.) perhaps you missed this story I wrote in April about lawmakers and their per diems. http://www.ajc.com/news/government-waste/per-diems-a-costly-460180.html

Samthesham

December 13th, 2010
11:51 am

Perhaps they should go to work for the Clayton BOE to get their money. Federal money to pay millions in bonuses to teachers who lost the counties accreditation?? Insane.

double

December 13th, 2010
11:54 am

why reps.and senate?Would one or the other not be enough?

Owen231

December 13th, 2010
12:00 pm

The law makers steal so much to start with, no need for that little pay raise.

Marcus

December 13th, 2010
12:06 pm

Why doesn’t everyone have a 2-year pay freeze to help the economy, like us federal employees. It’s not right. All these other straglers will get pay increases, while us hard-working, federal employees won’t get a pay increase for 2 years unless we get another federal job, which a lot of us probably will do. We’re trying to raise families, too. If Congress reduced it’s and it’s staff salaries by a small percentage, us deserving federal employees could get a little pay increase to show appreciation for our hard work. And if the private sector ranged its wages in (particularly, the top executives), they could hire some of these unemployed people.

Marcus

December 13th, 2010
12:08 pm

There’s enough waste in the federal budget to give us federal employees a pay increase.

marilyn

December 13th, 2010
12:13 pm

I work for an electrical contractor and have not received a raise since 2007. My work load has increased (working approx 50 hours/wk) but not my paycheck. You won’t hear me sobbing in my beer, I am just glad the company is still afloat, it’s tough out there for private companies. Stop whining, get off your butts and start working hard like those of us in the private sector.

Jim

December 13th, 2010
12:18 pm

atlantaallen-I think the legislators that live within 50 miles of the capitol have the ‘per diem’ treated as income for tax purposes, whereas those who live outside of that zone do not pay taxes on it.

EZRA

December 13th, 2010
12:18 pm

Most of the state and federal money went to economically empower the minorities.

Johns Creek

December 13th, 2010
12:32 pm

$17,000 for 40 days of work. Let’s see, the legislators are paid $425 per day for not doing very much. They have it pretty good already and clearly do not need a raise. Good decision to do away with the pay raise.

Yogi

December 13th, 2010
12:32 pm

Most of the Legislators eat free during the session. Almost every night there are big meals provided to them at the Depot. As a matter of a fact, there are so many invitations to meals that Legislators have to choose which one they will attend and some times they attend more than one. There is never a shortage of people who take them to breakfast/lunch/dinner just to get their “ear.” We should house them in the projects and let them eat in the state-run cafeteria and cut out per diems.

Us vs Us

December 13th, 2010
12:32 pm

Aaron, is this the first year the legislature has locked pay raises since 2007?

andy

December 13th, 2010
12:33 pm

for the posters who are complaining about the per diem: you’re not taking the whole picture into account. remember that atlanta is not the only part of this state: there are legislators who are having to rent apartments for the duration of the session because it’s entirely too far to drive back and forth between home and here. if you’ve ever tried to rent a one bedroom apartment for a 6 month or less lease period you know what i’m talking about. my grandfather was a state representative for 25 years and also owned his own small business. so after serving you, the state of georgia, for the whole week, he would then drive for several hours to get home and work all weekend on his own business to keep up with what was left off while slaving away for the state. this happened every weekend for 25 sessions, this back and forth. yes – some politicians are scum – we all know this; but all of the general assembly is not. Last year they were in session a few nights until midnight trying to work bills through, and that happens quite frequently depending on what is going on that particular year. so – give these people a break – the ones that are leaving their own businesses and jobs from january to march/aprilish are making much less $$ serving you than they would have at home.

Georgian in Exile

December 13th, 2010
12:37 pm

@Yogi Great idea!

Who Cares?

December 13th, 2010
12:38 pm

Hey, I kinda like the idea of how the government and its employees feel the entitlement of our tax dollars. Let’s see, “Hey, I think I’ll propose and vote for myself and my buddies a raise in pay. The tax payers will pay for it, and we all know they don’t hold us accountable for anything.” I’d like to try that at work. I think I’ll tell my boss that I will need to make X amount of dollars, and I don’t care how the company is doing, I just know I want more money. More results or effort for the raise? No way, I’ll tell him that the government works that way and they’re the ones who out earn the private sector and have the benefita and best job security out there. Who cares about accountability anyway?

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 13th, 2010
12:50 pm

@Us vs Us, no I don’t believe so. I think they postponed it last year, too. But that’s one of the things I’m still trying to figure out.

Aaron Gould Sheinin

December 13th, 2010
12:50 pm

@Yogi, you’re absolutely right about dinners during session. We refer to them as “big feeds.”

Base

December 13th, 2010
1:02 pm

A public relations stunt by the crooks in charge!

lydia

December 13th, 2010
1:15 pm

Andy. That’s his choice to hold public office. He should anticipate those costs. Isn’t it not all about the money but instead about “serving”?

Seriously?

December 13th, 2010
1:15 pm

@andy- for real? Slaving away for the state? You know that the legislative members chose to run, right? Nobody makes them…they know what the job entails, what it pays and how far from the ATL they live….no tears from this Georgian!!

MrQ

December 13th, 2010
1:26 pm

Being a politician, like being a teacher, policeman, etc., is a personal decision. A person does it because THEY want to, not because someone forces them to do it. If you do not like it, QUIT, but do not take the attitude that you are doing the world a favor.

Phil

December 13th, 2010
1:27 pm

How about a raise for all State employees for once

Lichele

December 13th, 2010
1:41 pm

Anytime the state lawmakers thinks they don’t deserve a pay raise, raises big concern with me. Get these lazy, dumb, stupid azzez out of office.

td

December 13th, 2010
2:12 pm

If I am not mistaken, between a 1/4 and 1/3 of the legislators are attorney’s and give up a ton of billiable hours for “serving”. I do not really think the majority of them are going to miss $510. I still want to know why all of these lawyers “serve” in the first place?

Darko

December 13th, 2010
2:18 pm

Funny to hear federal employees complain about a 2 year pay freeze. Most of the REAL WORLD has already had a 2-3 year pay freeze or even cuts. Cry me a river, federal employees.

Woodie

December 13th, 2010
2:22 pm

If they did something for the people, I’d be ok with them taking a pay raise. Let’s start with predatory lending practices. Then let’s move on to insurance company’s who rob their customers of claims. Just basic stuff that they get paid off by lobbiests to avoid.

GW

December 13th, 2010
2:37 pm

Exactly Darko. Even the state workers, teachers and others have been taking pay freezes and cuts for almost three years now. The Legislature should have been doing the same thing every one of those years too. Time that they and the federal workers feel the pinch as well.

St_Employee

December 13th, 2010
2:48 pm

I agree with the raise for the state employees. I have been at my job for 3+ years, been promoted 2 times and will NOT receive another promotion at this job. I only make $36,000 (starting salary was 30,000 per year) doing a job that protects the citizens of Georgia, and will not receive a cost of living raise anytime soon. I know federal employees start at approximately $45,000 per year doing the exact same job I do….

catlady

December 13th, 2010
2:49 pm

Time for the legislators to give us some of that money back, given such great work. If we were holding them accountable, it would cost them at least $50,000 each plus the expense money.

I have to laugh about the reimbursement. I can tell you when I have traveled for the state the per diem was nothing like that. If the conference was providing “food” no matter how bad or how sparse, that was supposed to be a “meal.” And we certainly had to share rooms and sleep in cheepo motels. There needs to be a limit about how many days it will pay for–like 40. The rest of the time,video conference or if that is impossible (for example, visiting a sugar processing plant) file for reimbursement of exactly the miles driven and exactly the bed and board ($75 maximum per day). We have got to rein in these legislators!

I have a PhD and 38 years of experience and I don’t get paid $425 + 173 per day! That’s right close to $600 per day during the session! Not one of them is worth it. Let’s limit the session to 10 days plus video conferencing fees. Let them be public SERVANTS.

catlady

December 13th, 2010
3:08 pm

BTW, I hate it when the SS/welfare folks complain that they are on a “fixed income.” I wish MY income could be counted on month after month, year after year. Instead it continues to decrease, even after I sign a legally binding (on me) contract for work to be performed. Think about that–the government telling you that one day a month of your SS “pay” will be withheld as a SS “furlough” day!

catlady

December 13th, 2010
3:28 pm

And, since inflation has been negligible this last year, WHY would the lawmakers get a COLA anyway?

JRev

December 13th, 2010
3:37 pm

@ Marcus: In case you haven’t heard, state employees (that includes teachers) around the country have had to deal with furloughs and pay freezes for the very same reason you are now. Why do you think you Federal employees should be immune to the economy when States are not? Deal with it; at least we still jobs to go to. If you don’t like it, then quit and join the less stable private sector. You get ZERO sympathy from this hard-working state employee. Ok, break time over, back to work!

Cynthia

December 13th, 2010
4:10 pm

Marcus,
Some of us in the private sector have not had a pay increase since 2007. And you are complaining about a freeze for two years?

Pigpen

December 13th, 2010
4:14 pm

td:

Only 10-15% of the Legislature is compromised of attorneys. The question is not why attorneys serve, but why not more attorneys serve.

poorboy

December 13th, 2010
4:53 pm

well thats mighty white of um considering we havent had a raise in 2 yrs and our insurance has went up 20%

Stump Barnes

December 13th, 2010
5:18 pm

I’m sure there are a few slacker legislators, but the overwhelming majority spend far more than 40 days a year serving as a legislator if you add up all the time they spend in committee or meeting and working with constituents in their district. No one is getting rich on $17,342 a year and $173 per diem.

Of course some of you think, our legislators should just eat the lost income and be grateful they got elected. Well, that’s great if you only want rich or retired Georgians to be your legislators. While, that might suit my individual political tastes, I don’t think that would be in the be interest of the state.

All of you posters need to grow-up and stop living a life consumed by petty envy. For pete’s sake, this news article is about the Legislature forgoing a pay increase on a measely $17,342 salary. You should be happy.

And, no, I don’t have any professional or family connection to anyone associated with the Legislature.

Marie McCumber

December 13th, 2010
6:16 pm

Are we ever a bunch of complainers? I, for one, thank them for voting not to give themselves pay raises. I am a retired State employee. Yes, I retired AFTER we began taking furlough days (at the age of 73, so furlough had no part in my decision). When I worked I was thankful to have a job and grateful that we were in a position to take furlough days; so many people were without jobs. This was the lesser of two evils: furloughs or RIF; furlough is equitable across the board. This is a time of crisis. If you are working and being furloughed, get on your knees and thank God, as you look next door at your neighbor who is unemployed. Thank your legislators for their contribution. How have we become such an ungrateful group of people? Look back through history to the Great Depression. Do we really have it so bad?

td

December 13th, 2010
8:24 pm

Pigpen

December 13th, 2010
4:14 pm
td:

Only 10-15% of the Legislature is compromised of attorneys. The question is not why attorneys serve, but why not more attorneys serve.

I do not think any attorney should be able to serve in any other branch of government except the judicial branch. They take an oath and are a officer of the court. When they serve in another branch they do not resign from the bar so therefore they still are a member of the judicial branch and this is a breach of separation of powers. You know the saying that you can not serve to masters at one time.

Pigpen

December 13th, 2010
9:02 pm

td:

Being an officer of the Court does not make an attorney a member of the judicial branch of government. A bailiff, police officer, probation officer, and prosecutor are also considered officers of the court, but represent the executive branch of government in Court. Are you saying that they cannot be officers of the court? Being an officer of the Court does not mean, and has never meant, that the person is disqualified from serving in the Legislative or Executive branch. While you make a creative argument, you mistakenly think that promoting justice as an officer of the Court means you are beholden to that branch. Upholding the state and US Constitution is not unique to the judicial branch of government.