by Rep. Vic Kohring
March 07, 2006
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.
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