AZ legislators deserve pay increase after 20+ years

Several states have tied legislative salaries to median household income, allowing for automatic, gradual increases

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts blandly describes herself as “a wife and mother…who loves all things Arizona….” What she neglects to mention is her contempt for Arizona’s state legislators who are among the lowest paid in the nation. She writes three columns a week and presumably gets paid for a full week‘s work. Legislators work full time during the session and serve constituents throughout the year. They also have to be ready to be called back into special session at the whim of the governor. They have not had a pay increase since 1998. It’s a good bet Roberts has.

Roberts, who thinks $24,000 a year is adequate compensation for those we elect and entrust with writing Arizona’s laws, is now hammering state Rep. Bob Thorpe (R-LD 6) for sponsoring two salary related bills — bringing them into the realm of reality in a state where increases of their paltry wages have been denied by voters for the last twenty years. Thorpe realistically proposes to tie future raises to the salaries of supervisors from counties of 500,000+ residents.

Rep. Thorpe also hopes to tie per diem to  the federal reimbursement rate –– raising the daily expense rate for out of Maricopa County legislators from $60 a day to $130. Those who are elected within Maricopa County would see a modest $7 increase per diem

Although today’s rampant political correctness constrains Laurie Roberts from referring to state lawmakers as “90 dwarfs” as former Arizona Republic columnist David Leibowitz frequently did, Roberts disparages the Flagstaff representative as “The Thorpedo,” for running the two bills: HCR 2016 and HB 2275.

Low pay restricts who can realistically serve  in the legislature, since a family could not subsist on $24,000. Few employers can or will allow citizen legislators to take months off work every year and travel to the state capital, which is why retirees, housewives or those with ample financial resources dominate the chambers. Juxtaposed against the rate of inflation, the current salary has decreased.

In Feb. 2013, we wrote AZ legislature: It’s not a part-time job. Responding to the demands of the job has become increasingly complex. Arizona is a large state with diverse issues.

The Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, covering first responders, correctional officers and elected officials has expanded its use of outside consultants by hiring a media relations and crisis communications contractor. And what a surprise to read that legislative basher David Leibowitz was awarded the lucrative $72,000 contact. How often will the word “dwarf” slip out of his mouth now that this state retirement system is paying him? We’re betting it’s been excised from his venomous vocabulary.

Laurie Roberts’ own employer ran this 2017 news report citing a national study finding the state’s retirement system ranks as one of the worst performing in the country, but pays the highest management fees. Perhaps that’s where she should direct her misplaced wrath.

10 Responses to AZ legislators deserve pay increase after 20+ years

  1. Seen It All says:

    It would be interesting to know how often Laurie Roberts has had raises over the last twenty years, and how much those increases have been. Legislators don’t work 9 to 5 days. There are occasions when they are in late night or even overnight sessions. This job is not a cakewalk. The pay is abyssal. I give a lot of credit to those men and women who actually try to do the the best for the state of Arizona and its citizens. Baseless complaining is easy.She can do it from home on her computer and post her smears before brushing her teeth.

  2. Realist says:

    Laurie Roberts should stick to covering abused and neglected kids. She does a credible job in that sordid arena. She’s out of her league writing about the legislature. I wonder if she’s ever ventured down Washington Street to sit in on a hearing or session. She sounds ignorant of the unique issues facing legislators.

  3. Jake sez says:

    Still wonder why people will spend tens of thousands of dollars for a job that pays $24,000 a year. Must be something there that they want.

    If you underpay your employees, they will steal from you to make up for what they think they are worth.

    • Conservative Since Birth says:

      I wonder the same thing. I don’t know how much they’re paid, but Texas state legislators meet once every two years, limited to 140 calendar days.

      From Wikipedia: “State legislators in Texas make $600 per month, or $7,200 per year, plus a per diem of $190 for every day the Legislature is in session (also including any special sessions). That adds up to $33,800 a year for a regular session (140 days), with the total pay for a two-year term being $41,000.[4][5] Legislators receive a pension after eight years of service, starting at age 60.[6]”

      • Saguaro Sam says:

        We’d be better off if the US Congress met every two years on a 140 day limit.

        Did you see former Amb. to the UN John Bolton’s interview with the Brits Sky News chick? Wow. He called her a “munchkin” and really went to the arena of facts, where of course, she had no game.

        I remember a time when DPS hadn’t been able to hire new troopers for Years because of the State budget.
        But plenty of money for public education that has shown no great outcomes.

        There are untold numbers of folks who have moved to AZ permanently who still drive on out-of-State tags. If the laws were enforced, that would be at least some change for the piggybank.

      • State Delegate says:

        There are those who believe they have something to offer and want to do what they can to better the state. That’s admirable, not suspect.

  4. Trevor says:

    Who’s worse Michelle Reagan or Kevin Gibbons?

    • Arizona Conservative Guy says:

      Wrong question, Trevor. Who’s BEST is Lori Klein Corbin. She’s a former Arizona State Senator and current National Committeewoman for Arizona.

      Why concern yourself with the least worse of the horrible when there is a very good choice?

  5. Hunter says:

    There should be an election before any pay change for legislators takes effect. The current legislators are probably worth $24K per year. We want to open the field to new candidates who are worth more money instead of just over paying the current legislators. If we offer $100K per year as the new salary that takes effect after a legislative election takes place, we will get more qualified legislators who will probably save the state more than the pay raise. We should also eliminate pensions for legislators at the same time.

    Regarding the complexity of legislative work, one thing that should be done is cut state government and regulations so the legislature has less to keep track of and Arizona citizens have more freedom and lower taxes.Even more highly qualified state legislators will not be as qualified to run the lives of Arizonians as the individual citizens are to run their own lives.