Louisiana lawmakers sink their own pay raises
The House Appropriations Committee rejected a pay raise for legislators Monday, May 15, 2023. (Francis Dinh/LSU Manship School News Service)
The House Appropriations Committee voted 16-5 Monday to kill a bill that would have increased the salary for legislators.
House Bill 149 had proposed increasing their pay to roughly $39,000 a year from $16,800, not including the daily stipend for lawmakers who live outside the Baton Rouge area. The committee rejected the bill after much discussion about service, privilege and ability.
Many legislators voiced their concern for supporting a raise in their own salaries when many residents of Louisiana deserve pay raises even more. Some members also worried about how it would look to vote to increase lawmaker pay after the same committee removed direct state funding for up to $3,000 in pay raises for K-12 teachers from the governor’s proposed budget.
After several members of the committee voiced their disapproval, Rep. Joseph Marino, a Gretna Independent who sponsored the pay raise proposal, said many lawmakers refused to pass the bill because they are running for reelection and worry it will harm them.
Marino, a criminal defense attorney, is not running for another term and contended that increasing the lawmaker pay would enable more people to run for office.
“It is simply a question of assuring that citizens from all walks of life are able to serve, not just rich and retired, but the younger professional or businessman or woman, plant worker, less well-off citizen,” Marino said.
Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, countered that.
“I am neither rich, nor am I retired, nor did I grow up privileged,” Villio said. “What I consider this to be is service. I don’t consider it a job.”
Reps. Daryl Deshotel, R- Marksville; Mary DuBuisson, R- Slidell; Aimee Freeman, D- New Orleans; John Illg Jr., R-River Ridge, and Rodney Lyons, D- Marrero, voted for the pay raise.
The House and Governmental Affairs Committee had voted 8-4 earlier to support Marino’s bill. Because the pay raise would have impacted the state budget, it also had to pass the appropriations committee.
Also on Monday, the Appropriations Committee also advanced a bill that would enable some teachers to earn hourly wages for extra duties.
House Bill 205, authored by Rep. Marcus Bryant, D-New Iberia, would allow teachers to be paid for any duties outside of their job descriptions. Additionally, teachers would be paid an hourly rate based on their salary for after-school activities except for coaching positions.
The bill also changes the date, to June 30, when teacher salary schedules would become available for the following school year.
Coaches are not included in this change because they are already paid outside of their normal duties. An amendment also removed teachers at special schools from the supplement pay plan.
Marcus Thomas, director of government relations for the Louisiana Association of Educators, said 43 districts already provide supplemental pay for teachers participating in extra duties. He said this bill would provide fairness and consistency.
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