Cooking their own goose: Are Alabama lawmakers getting paid more than the job is worth?
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Oct 24, 2012 | 2365 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The long-standing mess involving the Alabama Legislature’s pay raise could have been handled so easily.

Republicans, elected as the party of reform, could have mollified the public outrage at the increase Democratic legislators gave themselves by simply repealing it and returning things to the way they had been.

But no.

Full of crusading zeal, the GOP went beyond what was required to set things right and not only negated the raise but effectively cut the salary of many legislators.

When voters go to the polls Nov. 6, they will be greeted by a host of amendments. Amendment 8 asks to “repeal the existing provisions for legislative compensation and expenses and establish the basic compensation of the legislature at the median household income in Alabama, to require legislators to submit signed vouchers for reimbursement for expenses, and to prohibit the Legislature from increasing the compensation or expenses payable to its members.”

Not only have legislators killed the goose that laid the golden egg, they have cooked the bird and are asking voters to force them to eat it.

That’ll show ’em.

Many Alabamians believe legislators are paid more than they deserve for doing what seems to be a part-time job. Alabamians might be more willing to underwrite the expense if they felt they were getting their money’s worth from the Legislature, which apparently they do not.

Judging from this amendment, many legislators feel Alabamians are right, that what they are doing is not worth the money they are being paid.

But look at it another way. One of the fundamental principles of democracy is that holding office should be open to everyone. Going back to the days of Andrew Jackson, it was argued that public officials should be paid enough so that the farmer in the field or the worker in the factory could afford to hold office. On the other hand, there were those who argued that politics was a rich man’s pastime because only those who have become financially successful are qualified to make decisions for the rest.

In other words, keep compensation low and keep the riffraff out.

This page has serious reservations about Amendment 8.

There is nothing to suggest that legislators will work harder and be more diligent in their duties if this passes.

Moreover, there is every reason to believe that this amendment will eventually turn the Alabama Legislature into a club where the price of membership is affluence.

However, because most Alabamians believe the Legislature is being paid more than the job is worth, and most Alabamians may be right, we feel you should vote for Amendment 8.
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