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October 16, 2013

Panel shoots down pay hike for legislators



Legislators in certain leadership positions also receive additional compensation. The president pro tem of the Senate and speaker of the House each earn an extra $17,932 annually, and the House and Senate appropriations chairmen, House speaker pro tem, Senate assistant majority leader and majority and minority floor leaders in both the House and Senate all earn an extra $12,364 per year.
The median household income in Oklahoma was $44,312 in 2012, while the total compensation package for an Oklahoma legislator was worth about $62,000, Paulk said.
“With today’s government and today’s environment, I think we would not be looked on as wise members of this committee if we were to do increases, especially with the federal government shutdown, and cuts here and cuts there,” said board chairman Wes Milbourn, an appointee of Gov. Mary Fallin.
State Rep. Joe Dorman, who is entering his 12th and final year as a state lawmaker, said he believes the board made the right decision, especially when state employees haven’t received an across-the-board pay raise since 2006 and the starting salary for a public school teacher is around $31,000.
“When our state employees haven’t had a raise in seven years, it would be ridiculous to think we would even consider giving an elected official a pay raise,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs.
State Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, agreed.
“I think it was a no brainer,” Morrissette said. “It’s like the captain of a ship — you’re the last to leave the boat. I think legislators should be the last ones to get a pay increase after state employees.”

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