One of the arguments offered by lawmakers asking state employees — including teachers — to accept unpaid furlough days is that everyone is sharing the pain.
Well, that argument just went down in flames with the refusal of two House members to accept the pay cut on the “principle” that they signed on for a certain salary and they want their full pay
In an AJC exclusive, the paper reports that seven legislators did not the prescribed furlough days last year, most out of so-called “confusion,” but two others out of “principle.” (As to that confusion defense, more than 200 other lawmakers weren’t confused about the process. Why were these few so foggy on the details?)
Here is what the story says:
Four of the five senators who skipped the furloughs in 2009 said they were confused by the process governing the way lawmakers take such days, and the two House members said they had no intention of taking them. All seven are Democrats.
Rep. David Lucas of Macon and Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams of Avondale Estates said they oppose the furloughs on principle. Both said the leadership ordered the days without consulting members, who ran for the office with the expectation they would be paid a certain salary.
“If the general public wants to get rid of David Lucas for that, then fine,” said Lucas.
Somebody ought to take Lucas up on that offer. To refuse a pay cut that rank and file state workers had to take is not only arrogant, it is insulting. Teachers and other state workers signed up their jobs also expecting a certain salary. They are not getting it.
Because we’re in a dire recession if Lucas and Williams haven’t noticed.
The story also says:
Legislators are paid $17,342 a year; 11 unpaid days would cost the average rank-and-file member about $725 each.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston said in a joint statement that updated estimates that state revenues will be down $1.2 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30 led to their call Tuesday for more voluntary furlough days for lawmakers.
“As elected leaders, we must lead by example,” the joint statement said. “We are not immune to the revenue shortfalls that are affecting our state and our families.”
Robyn Underwood, legislative fiscal officer, said the 11 furlough days will save the state about $170,000.
Four of the senators — Valencia Seay of Riverdale, Minority Leader Robert Brown of Macon, Lester Jackson of Savannah and Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain —said they intended to take the furlough days.
They said that in an “oversight” they had not filed the proper paperwork to have the money deducted from their checks.
“Their perception was that it was automatic,” said Benjamin F. George, Brown’s chief of staff. “It was not that they objected to it. This is nothing that any of them would have wanted to happen.”
The fifth senator, Ed Harbison of Columbus, said he had asked to take the furlough days and didn’t know until Tuesday that it hadn’t happened. He said he has asked that money be taken from his paychecks two days a month until he’s caught up.
Underwood confirmed that Harbison made that request, and she said she plans to offer to do the same for other legislators who did not — but want to — take all 11 furlough days.
Senators had to sign a form to take part in the furlough, while House members had to submit a letter to opt out, Underwood said.
This is when I wonder why these folks run for office and they keep getting re-elected.