Some of us think government is too expensive. That also applies to the business of doing government. As most of us know, running a Legislature is expensive.
And the longer a Legislature stays in session, the more expensive it becomes.
That said, it’s not why Montana Governor Greg Gianforte vetoed a pay raise for Montana’s House and Senate members. They’re paid a per diem and given an hourly wage.
The governor said the increase to $24 an hour, along with an already passed increase in the per diem, is too much, and is disproportionate to the raise the Legislature authorized this year for state employees.
“As has been the case since before our nation’s founding, public service comes with personal sacrifice — long hours away from home, less time with family, and appropriately limited compensation,” the governor wrote in his veto message. “Those who enter public service, by design, are often motivated by a cause greater than themselves.”
House Appropriations Chair, Republican Rep. Llew Jones supports the raise and says the raise is critical because without more money to go along with days and days away from jobs and homes, only those that are independently wealthy, or retired, will be able to afford to serve.
“The reality is we’re making decisions on who can serve,” Jones said. “I certainly can live without this but I’ve watched the people who can’t and I’ve watched them for years.”
When they’re in session or working for the Legislature on out of session business, Montana’s House and Senate members are currently paid $104.86 per day — or around $13 an hour. The per diem pays for the cost of lodging meals and travel.
Or to put it another way, the bill the governor vetoed would make the pay for legislators about 40% of what the governor makes per year. He earns $118,000. As an aside, Gianforte donates his entire salary to charity each year.
Montana’s Legislature meets every two years at a cost of $1 million per session, and $350,000 for the odd year when only interim committees meet.
“Our part-time citizen legislature stands in contrast to those in other states like California where professional politicians are full-time legislators, at great cost to taxpayers,” Gianforte wrote in his veto memo. “Our system keeps government close to the people, and it’s part of what makes Montana special.”
By the way, kitchen workers in some restaurants in the state capital of Helena make $19 to $23 per hour.
Source link: Montana Free Press — https://bit.ly/4325wqh