There was much talk about legislative salaries as the Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature got underway. Lots of it was done by folks seeking to gain politically by their comments. Others really believed legislators are overpaid or are being paid in the wrong way. Regardless, I have always believed that members of the Alabama Legislature should be paid a good salary and have a reasonable, but not excessive expense allowance. If you really look into this matter, I believe you will find such an approach makes sense.
The brief debate over rolling back the current salaries that came up at the outset of the Session was obviously more political posturing than anything else. Considering all of the demands on legislators – especially for those having more than one county in their district and requiring lots of travel and meetings – I don’t believe the members of the House and Senate are overpaid. It’s costly for them to live in Montgomery during the times that the legislature is in session. The current salary is $52,000 annually with no separate expense allowance.
I don’t believe the current pay is overly excessive because of the legislators’ responsibilities. When they are required to be away from their homes, jobs and businesses should be taken into consideration. I believe that a commission set up to set salaries and expense allowances is the proper way to handle this sort of thing. Legislators shouldn’t be allowed to deal with issues relating to their own pay. As a matter of interest, I doubt that many folks realize that the salary for legislators is actually set in the Alabama Constitution and its only $10 per day. The rest of what the legislators receive is in the form of expenses. While it may not be popular from a political perspective to take a position that advocates paying legislators a reasonable salary, in my opinion, it’s the right thing to do.
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