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Veto Pay Raises, PAR Says

The governor should feel no hesitation in vetoing an omnibus bill to provide pay raises for elected officials, if the bill makes it to her desk. This is the wrong way and certainly the wrong time to give a 58% increase in compensation to legislators and major pay raises to statewide elected officials, judges and Public Service Commission members.

In an effort to expand political support for the measure, the current Senate bill would lump together proposed pay raises for a variety of offices. While adjustments in the pay of some elected officials might be justified, these should be evaluated separately. For most offices, increases should not be granted mid-term; the incumbents were elected knowing the salary. Because of their longer terms, judges might be an exception. However, considering the fiscal constraints under which the state is laboring, any major increases would be inappropriate at this time.

There is no justification for a raise for legislators, especially one of the size proposed. Louisiana legislators are not poorly compensated for these part-time jobs and, in fact, are better paid than their counterparts in many other states. Giving a major increase to legislators who are term-limited out of office after this term would also mean a substantial windfall for those who were grandfathered into the retirement system.

The Legislature should exercise good judgment and let this proposal die. If it does not, the governor should be ready with the veto stamp.

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