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Idaho lawmakers slated for 2% raise

Idaho state legislators should get a 2 percent raise next year, a citizens committee decided Monday, while also tightening up rules about compensation for a lawmaker's second residence near the capitol. "They've not had a raise since 2007," said Eva Gay Yost, a member of the panel. "They rejected the last one. State employees got 2 percent, so I thought it was appropriate." Lawmakers this year approved 2 percent raises for all state employees performing to standards in the coming year, the first state employee raise they've funded in four years.

The committee's recommendation takes effect unless lawmakers reject it - which they did in 2009, when the panel recommended a 5 percent raise. Two years ago, the committee recommended no raise.

The second-residence rule became an issue in 2011, when the Associated Press reported that two Canyon County senators - Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, and then-Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell - were claiming the compensation, which adds up to roughly $6,000 a year, without actually setting up second residences near the capitol. McGee stayed with his parents, and McKenzie slept on his law office couch. Legislative leaders put a stop to that this year, but Debora Kristensen, chair of the six-member citizens panel, said the group voted to add specifics to the compensation recommendation "to give some clarity as to what that means." You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Wayne: Lawmakers Now An Elite Class

Most of us recognize that in this economic climate, just having a job is a gift. In both the private and public sectors, employees have been told to take a day off of work here and there, without pay, in order to help make payroll. That’s the kid-glove treatment. Others have been laid off. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, a citizens committee voted last week to exempt state lawmakers from the same kind of medicine. The committee voted to recommend that lawmakers continue to earn their salaries of $16,116 a year. That’s the same money legislators have earned for four years running. Panel chairman Rich Jackson asked, according to a story on IdahoReporter.com, “If we keep legislative salary and benefits low, where does the line cross that no one will run?”/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.

Question: Should Idaho legislators take a pay and benefits cut as a symbolic gesture in these hard economic times?

Idaho D’s: Don’t Raise Solon Pay

Back in June, a citizens committee recommended that state legislators get a 5 percent raise this year, from $16,116 to $16,921, effective this month. The committee’s recommendation takes effect unless lawmakers reject it by concurrent resolution prior to the 25th day of the upcoming legislative session, which starts Jan. 12. Now, Democratic legislators are calling for rejecting the raise. “Simply put, we are unwilling to take the pay raise recommended by the compensation committee at a time when so many Idaho families and small businesses are hurting,” said Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, who said he’ll introduce a resolution in the Senate in January to reject the pay boost/Betsy Russell, SR Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Should Idaho legislators raise their own pay next session?