Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How much is a legislator worth?

​No doubt there is a range of opinion on this question – all the way from “his/her weight in gold” to “not a plugged nickel.” But it turns out there is an official mechanism for determining the answer: the Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. And we’ll find out what they think Thursday, Jan. 31, at the end of the second of two public meetings on proposed salaries for the next two years. After getting feedback from the public at additional hearings, the commission will adopt its final plan in May.
The commission was created by a 1986 amendment to the state constitution, and is made up of sixteen unpaid citizens.  Nine commission members are chosen by a random drawing of registered voters.  The other seven are chosen by the leaders of the House and Senate based on areas of expertise. Every other year, the commission goes through a process for setting salaries for more than 450 elected officials, most of them judges. At the top right now is the governor, pulling down $166,891 a year. Legislators are paid $42,106 annually, with a few in leadership positions getting more. Salaries have been frozen since 2008.
The two public meetings this week are at The Phoenix Inn Suites, 415 Capitol Way N., Olympia, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Public testimony is invited.
You can read all about the process and learn lots of other stuff at the commission’s web site.

Read this story in Spanish here.