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Media Reporting of Per Diem Scandalous
by Rep. Vic Kohring


March 07, 2006
Tuesday PM

The idea of changing our method of paying legislators lies upon a background of legitimate interest and downright scandal. It's appropriate to challenge what public servants are paid and how. But the real scandal is that there has been a major change in our per diem pay which the big city liberal media has conveniently ignored. The session rates sunk by $1500.00 a month in January 2006. That's a six grand decrease for each legislator during the course of the session. Yet not a peep from the media.

We should retain the per diem method of payment because it serves two functions better than a straight salary. During the session per diem helps cover extraordinarily high living expenses in Juneau. During the interim per diem is good because it's paid only for hours worked. The legislator must show he or she earned it by documenting work done and submitting a signed form. If you don't do the work, you don't get paid.

A salary increase would be a complex guess and much would go to the feds in the form of income tax. A salary would not compensate lawmakers spending long hours assisting constituents; it would unfairly pay the same to those who go home early in the day.

My salary is the same now as it was 11 years ago as a freshman legislator. It has not been increased for over 20 years, despite public perception. If we even suggested a raise, the big city liberal media would mercilessly savage us in hopes of stirring up rage. The only "flap" is what they have attempted to create. Perhaps a nonpartisan, nonpolitical commission could take all the factors into consideration and make recommendations. That may be a fair way to decide who should be paid what.

About: Rep. Vic Kohring (R) is a member of the 24th Alaska State Legislature representing District 14 - Wasilla. He has resided in Alaska for 43 years.



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Ketchikan, Alaska