Legislators get a little more cash.

They voted to increase their daily allowance to $173 a day (from $128 a day):

The money is meant to help the state’s 236 lawmakers pay for food and lodging, but they don’t have to account for it with receipts. Legislators are entitled to the daily allowance every day they attend the upcoming 40-working day legislative session and for any days they spend in committee. It is in addition to their $7,000 annual expense account – for office supplies and other items — and their $16,524 annual salary.

In increasing their per diem rate, the Legislative Services Committee matched it to the federal rate of $173 for the Atlanta area. And from now on, the state rate will track with the federal rate. The last time lawmakers increased their per diem was July of 1999, when it went up from $75 to $128.

“For our legislators who spend a lot of time in Atlanta, it’s hard to rent a hotel room and eat on $128 a day,” said House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island). “In fact, I would say you can’t do it unless you stay in some areas you may not want to stay in.”

It’s fine by me. In fact, it wouldn’t bother me if they got an increase in their salary. How many people can take the first three months of the year off? Anything we can do to increase the number of non-lawyers in the Legislature is good in my mind.

18 comments

  1. Demonbeck says:

    Pennsylvania officials tied their salaries to federal salaries – giving themselves 55% of their counterparts in the House and Senate. The next election, virtually every incumbent lost.

    While I feel that our state legislators do a job that really requires full time attention year round and would have no problem with them recieving full-time pay for it. (55% of federal counterparts is a bit much) I see no way this ever passes through our General Assembly.

    Until then, however, only certain people will be able to afford to be elected in the State of Georgia.

  2. SevenHillsDem says:

    I think part of the reason why we have lots of retirees and people with money in the legislature is because salaries are not high enough.

    If you raise salaries to around $30,000 it would be a much better incentive for people to run for a legislative position knowing that they couldn’t work for 3-4 months.

  3. ColinATL says:

    buzz, a couple of points, mostly to your after-thoughts than anything else…

    1) Don’t disparage lawyers on political blogs. There are a lot of us around these parts, and we know how to use LexisNexis! 🙂

    2) Would you believe the number of lawyers in the legislator is considered by many to be TOO low right now. Seriously. You need a sufficient number of lawyers who are familiar with HOW LAWS WORK in the real world to be able to get the best laws. It’s simple truth.

    Am I saying we need lots more lawyers? Not at all, but legislation suffers without lawyers. It’s kind of obvious if you think about it.

  4. CobbGOPer says:

    Aw, come on Colin. You know damn well that the General Assembly has a legal department full of lawyers there to assist our lawmakers in writing up bills.

    Of course, the task is to get the lawmakers to ask the lawyers for help in the first place, but…

  5. JRM2016 says:

    Need fewer lawyers in the legislature?

    That’s like saying we need fewer doctors in our hospitals.

    All the joking aside, lawyers know more about the consequences of drafting laws, how they will be carried out and interpreted and how they will work with other laws (Ga. Constitution/U.S. Constitution, etc.) than anyone else generally speaking.

    There is certainly a place for any profession in the legislature, but we need the lawyers!

    Regards,

    A Lawyer

  6. Buzz,

    I’m against this pay raise. 3 month compensation comes to $23,444. I recognize that serving in the legislature is a hardship to some people’s profession, but at an annualized rate the $23K equals $93,776.

    Obviously travel expenses and hardships complicate this number a little bit, but most Georgians do not make $93,776 as a yearly salary.

    When I lived in a very nice apartment complex in Brookhaven, my rent for a 3 bedroom apartment with a year’s lease was $1,200/month. When our lease ran out we went month to month for a while because our new place wasn’t ready yet. If I recall, our rent went up to about $1,600/month at that point. This was for a 3 bedroom apartment. A 1 bedroom furnished apartment rents for less than $1,200 with no lease in some very nice parts of Atlanta.

    Under the old per diem of $128 for 40 days, legislators were getting a $5,120 per diem. Which means they could easily afford the $3,600 or so for January, February and March to rent their own furnished apartment at a nice Post Properties in a sought after neighborhood, and still have $1,500 for food. Considering that most of these guys eat at some sort of lobbyist function for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 40 of those days, this should be fine.

    If money is a little tight, share an apartment and get it down to $700 or so a month for a furnished apartment for three months. That would free up at least $2,000 after taxes for food. And of course that is only the guys that live more than 50 or so miles away from the Capitol, of which the majority don’t.

    Plenty of people in Glenn Richardson’s neighborhood in Paulding drive to Atlanta every day of the year to go to their job and make less than $93,000. Plenty of people do it for less than $50,000. This pay raise is a huge giveaway to Atlanta committee chairs who can take virtually unlimited committee days in an effort to boost their legislative salaries.

    Outrageous!

  7. RiverRat says:

    CobbGOPer – you assume that the General Assembly asks the lawyers that work there for help. They have some talented people working at the Capitol, but most of the legislation the GOP churns out is word-for-word what some hack in a think tank churned out for 20 other states.

  8. buzzbrockway says:

    Hey folks, my brother in law is a lawyer. I love lawyers. 😉

    I have no problem with lawyers in the legislature, but we also need other folks. Teachers, business owners, even a few regular folks. Non-lawyers understand the consequences of legislative action (or inaction) as well as lawyers.

  9. liberty21 says:

    They are just doing the same thing the Pennsylvania state legislator did, give themselves a pay raise. it back fired in PA . I believe pay raises for state legislators and all elected statewide offices including governor should be voted on by the voters of Georgia as much as I support American voters voting on whether Congress and the President should get pay increases. They will give themselves pay raises for food and lodging which are the basic necessities for low-wage workers. I do not see the state legislator below the poverty line. The low-wage workers deserve the pay raise. We should raise the state minimum wage to $7.25 per hour instead of multi-million dollar legislator enriching themselves

  10. jsm says:

    The legislature could use a few more engineers and other similar analytically critical thinkers. Too much emotion gets involved in lawmaking. However, most engineers, physicists, scientists, etc., can’t afford to be out of the office or lab for three months. The current system rules out too many good people.

    If more pay and a revamped session schedule would get a more diversified talent pool in the state legislature, I would support it.

  11. Trackboy1 says:

    A 35% RAISE!
    SCUM…they are simply scumbags to sneak this through out of session, hoping people are too busy with the holidays to notice.
    How many of them live close enough to sleep in their own beds each night, yet they get the same per diem as the guy who comes up from Valdosta?

    Are there any fiscal conservative Repub’s with a backbone to fight this? Can one single Dem in this state even spell “backbone”? Wussy Dem’s deserve what they get, and fiscal conservatives exist in name only…

    Yes, it;s a small amount in the grand scheme of things, but it’s also about principal and appeareances…and these clowns have no principals. Just ask Rich Golick!
    http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/printedition/2006/12/10/bizcreditconflict1210a.html

  12. DougieFresh says:

    Although it might be desirable to have lawyers draft the laws, it is a mistake to have them overly represented in voting on them.

    Laws need to be written so that the average joe can understand and obey them, not so clouded in legalisms that the true meaning is lost to the people it affects.

    As for making the legislature more accessible. In the age of the internet and such, why do we require a central meeting place for all representatives. Committees can be run with video conference calls, votes can be taken by electronic devices and debate can also be handled over conference calls.

    In fact, there could even be remote legislature sites around the state so that individual members can travel a reasonable commuting distance from their day job / home to a location with legal and administrative support.

    If legislature sessions are then held in the evening, even a 9-5 office worker could be in the legislature, and we would not be overrun with Real Estate Brokers, Lawyers and such.

  13. rugby_fan says:

    It is a “trackback”, it just shows who is linking to this particular story.

    When I found out what those were I was quite impressed. The internet does some amazing things.

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