By Paul Gable
Prefiled bills for a new legislative session are usually good for a laugh or two and this year is no different. But, one filed last week would give S.C. legislators a substantial increase in pay.
Our favorite this year is H 3108, a bill submitted by Rep. John King, (D-49). Simply put, King is looking for a pay raise.
We’ll let the language of the bill speak for itself, “MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MUST RECEIVE TOTAL ANNUAL COMPENSATION FOR THEIR LEGISLATIVE SERVICE FOR A REGULAR SESSION IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS, TO PROVIDE THAT THIS COMPENSATION CONSISTS OF PER DIEM AND SALARY…”
Maybe some of you consider $50K per year reasonable remuneration for legislators in this state. After all, if you want to get good people, you have to pay a little bit, right?
Consider this – the regular legislative session currently runs from the first full week in January to the first full week in June with members meeting in session on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That’s roughly 21 weeks at three days per week. The current per diem is limited to 40 days during a regular legislative session – the roughly two nights per week they stay over each week, even those who live around the corner.
That’s $50K for 63 days of legislative work each year in a legislative session. Not bad if you can get it!
Yes, we know legislators do other things associated with the state’s business during the year and for this, ostensibly, they do not get paid. Unless you consider the likes of Speaker Bobby Harrell who reimbursed himself approximately $300,000 ($75K per year for four years) from his campaign funds for expenses associated with state government work.
But, really! These are part-time legislators who, presumably, have a regular job, if you call lawyers, insurance agents and real estate agents regular jobs.
King’s bill, if passed, would not become effective until January 2015. There is a state law that does not allow elected officials to give themselves a pay raise. This means they have to pass it during one legislative cycle and go through a general election cycle before a pay raise can go into effect.
The easiest way to get this done is early in a new legislative cycle so the voters will forget, almost two years down the line, when election time comes.
There are other prefiled bills that make some sense. We will go into those in detail later, but we had to let you know about this one right away.