BOISE - One after another, the members of the House State Affairs Committee voted “Aye,” all 18 of them, to reject the proposed 5 percent pay raise for lawmakers this year.
The resolution now heads directly to the full House, without further hearings. If passed, it’ll save the state about $180,000, but sponsor Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, said the significance goes beyond the savings.
“With the economic times, how can we take and ask state employees to take a hit with salary, and yet we’ve got ourselves a salary increase?” Bolz asked. “We’re in tough times. My belief is when you get in difficult times like this, you can’t ask some people to take all the hurt. Everybody has to hurt to get through the situation.”
Bolz’ proposal also rejects all the changes in mileage and per diem expenses that a citizen committee had recommended this year. “What we are doing is rejecting all of these,” he told the panel. There was no debate before the unanimous vote of approval.
Bolz said he wasn’t surprised. In fact, two Democratic lawmakers had already announced, before the legislative session, that they would introduce such legislation; Bolz beat them to it.
He had also hoped to reject pay raises for statewide elected officials, but when he requested an Attorney General’s opinion on that in December, he found out he couldn’t - the Constitution requires those pay amounts to be set before the officials take office, and not changed during their terms. As far as rejecting legislative raises, Bolz said, “I don’t think there’s any opposition to it, at least on the House side.”
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