Commission recommends salary increases for lawmakers in next term

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The State House viewed from Maryland Avenue. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

Maryland’s next group of lawmakers should get a raise, a salary review board has found.

The General Assembly Compensation Committee voted unanimously on Friday to recommend an increase of about $ 6,306 in the salaries of state lawmakers over the next term, although some panelists said they wanted this figure to be higher.

The proposed increases would be 4% in 2023 and 2024 and 2% in 2025 and 2026 and would bring lawmakers’ salaries to $ 56,636 in the fourth year from $ 50,330 currently, said Simon Powell of the Legislative Services Department.

This represents a total increase of over 12%. The Speaker of the House and Speaker of the Senate would also see the same salary increase as part of the committee’s proposal, taking their current salary from $ 65,371 to over $ 73,500.

The General Assembly Compensation Commission consists of five members appointed by Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), two members appointed by Senate Speaker Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and two members appointed by the President of House Adrienne A. Jones (D- Baltimore County). The committee’s recommendations will be submitted for approval to the General Assembly, which may reduce or reject, but not increase, the recommendations.

The National Conference of State Legislatures considers Maryland, along with 25 other states, to be a “hybrid” state legislature because lawmakers “spend more than two-thirds of a full-time job being a legislator.” The average compensation for legislatures in the NCSL hybrid category is $ 41,110.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, members of the General Assembly’s Compensation Committee were divided over the salary increase for lawmakers. Three options were initially on the table: not to raise salaries at all, to increase lawmakers ‘salaries by 4.5% over the next four years, or to increase lawmakers’ salaries by 9.9% over the next four years. .

Wendell G. Rakosky, a person appointed by Hogan to the committee, opposed significant salary increases for lawmakers at a meeting on Monday, pointing out that Maryland lawmakers are among the highest paid in states than the United States. NCSL considers it to have a hybrid model.

“We are currently roughly leading the market,” Rakosky said on Monday.

However, Lester Davis, a person named by Jones, said on Monday that lawmakers are spending more time than before on legislative business outside of session.

Matthew Gallagher, who was appointed to the commission by Ferguson, said on Friday he would support an increase of up to 4% per year over the next four years, as other commissions charged with adjusting Salaries for the judiciary and governor have opted for larger increases – and because previous iterations of the General Assembly Compensation Committee have not systematically increased salaries.

“I have the impression that this number could be justified considering the actions of the other commissions, considering the measures taken with the workforce of the state, and in particular considering the little change in the salaries of the legislators since 2006. ” Gallagher mentioned.

Davis also said on Friday that a larger increase would be warranted, given increasing demands on state lawmakers.

“I think the idea that the General Assembly is part-time just isn’t accurate,” Davis said.

Rakosky said he didn’t think a 16% increase would be warranted because it could make Maryland the highest-paid legislature in the NCSL hybrid category. Gallagher, however, said if the commission did not increase salaries, that figure could fall compared to other states that have chosen to increase the salaries of lawmakers.

Rakosky suggested a 4% increase for 2023 and 2024 and a 2% increase for 2025 and 2026 as a compromise. Gallagher, Davis and other members of the commission who supported a higher pay rise rallied around this compromise, although they maintained that they would have liked to see a higher pay rise like the one proposed by Gallagher.

Although Maryland only has a 90-day legislative session, many lawmakers indicated in a recent Department of Legislative Services investigation that they spend a lot of time working on legislative matters outside of session. Lawmakers are also banned from fundraising during session.

Of the 136 legislators who responded to this survey, 28% reported spending 40 or more hours per week on legislative activities outside of the legislative session, 29% reported spending between 30 and 39 hours per week on legislative activities, 36% said they spent 20-29 hours per week and 7% reported spending less than 20 hours per week on legislative activities outside the regular session.

About 96% of lawmakers who responded to the Legislative Services Department’s survey said they spent 40 or more hours per week on legislative activities during the regular legislative session.

Some members of the commission said if the panel did not increase the salaries of lawmakers to keep up with the cost of living, lawmakers would effectively see their pay reduced over the next four years as inflation rises.

“If we don’t give an increase, at the very least an inflationary increase, we are actually reducing wages,” LynAnn Dippel, a person named by Hogan, said Monday.

A previous commission recommended in January 2014 that salaries drop from $ 45,207 to $ 50,330 between 2015 and 2018, and salaries have remained stable since then.

According to a recent report By the non-partisan New American Leaders group, the salary of lawmakers is tied to who can afford to run for office, and lower pay hampers diversity in legislatures. This report states that “the flexibility required by legislatures is just not the kind of flexibility that sectors like hospitality, administration, social services or educational fields can offer. Workers in sectors that traditionally demand more structured hours also struggle to access the capital needed to run for office. “


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