The discussion of elected official's pay is a tricky one, but a very important discussion that needs to take place. You might be aware of the General Assembly's action this week regarding elected officials compensation. If not, I'd like to take this opportunity to explain the process.
Every two years the Missouri Citizens' Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials meets to discuss the compensation of state officials, general assembly members and judges. This group is made up of 20 citizens; 12 appointed by the governor, 7 appointed by the secretary of state, and one appointed by the Supreme Court. The salary commission studies other states' elected officials' compensation plans and uses that information to make their recommendations.
In December 2016, the Commission recommended a pay increase of 2.5 percent for lawmakers in Fiscal Year 2018 and Fiscal Year 2019. This amounts to around $500 net annually for each member of the General Assembly. The proposed increase would have brought Senator's and Representative's salaries up to $37,733. In comparison, the Missouri Governor makes approximately $133,000 per year.
Every time this issue has come up for a vote in the past, I have voted against the Governor's Salary Commission's recommendation. In fact, elected officials have only received one 2 percent pay raise in the past 16 years. At some point, in order to attract the top possible candidates to run for office and to make sure you don't only have the independently wealthy or retirees running for the state Senate or the House of Representatives, you have to give a pay raise. This year I voted to accept the Governor's Salary Commission's recommendation and I personally told the governor I would donate my pay raise to his charity, The Mission Continues.
The governor did not agree with my decision and was critical of it. This only caused me to dig my heels in further. The constituents of the 21st Senate District did not elect me to ask the governor how to vote. They elected me to vote in the best interests of my district and for that I stood my ground, as I always have and always will.
I urge you to contact my office with any questions or concerns you have about state government so I can better represent you during the 2017 legislative session.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.