Legislators Can Work Less Instead of Asking for More Pay
By Micah Perry
Everyone loves getting a raise. Our Oregon state legislators are no exception. Recently, a large group of senators and representatives tried to increase their yearly salary from $33,000 to around $63,000. The proposed pay increase would have made Oregon’s state legislature the highest paid part-time legislature in the United States.
Even though Oregon’s legislature only meets for a fraction of the year, proponents of the raise argue that being a representative is actually a full-time job. Serving in the legislature, though, wasn’t always so demanding.
For most of the state’s history, Oregon had a part-time legislature that met every other year. But, the legislature itself pushed for annual sessions and asked voters to approve the constitutional change back in 2010 without a corresponding pay raise.
If legislators complain that they are clocking too many hours, it’s up to them to bring themselves some work-life balance. They can go back to meeting every other year. They can hold back on submitting so many bills. They can focus only on the big problems facing the state, and reduce the size and scope of the state’s government. Although the proposed pay increase failed to pass out of the legislature this year, it’s likely to resurface again soon. When it does, our representatives should first remember that they can always work less instead of asking for more taxpayer money.
Micah Perry is a Program Assistant for External Affairs at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.