Shame on the Louisiana Legislature

By Erick Posted in | | Comments (10) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

The Louisiana Legislature has held Governor Jindal's reformist agenda hostage.

The legislators, who are only part time legislators, want pay increases from $16,800.00 a year to $50,790.00 and they want an annual increase in their salaries after that -- for their part time job.

Sadly, the legislators have been fairly united. More than two-thirds in each house have told Governor Jindal that they will kill every one of his legislative proposals unless he goes along with this salary increase.

He has no choice but to agree to the ransom.

On the bright side, this is probably a response to Governor Jindal's ethics reforms. Now that the legislators cannot take bribes as easily, they need the extra income.

Nonetheless, it is shameful.

Speaker Jim Tucker's phone number is 225-342-7263. The vote will happen today.

Whether you live in Louisiana or not, you should call the Speaker and tell him how very shameful the legislature's conduct is.


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Shame on the Louisiana Legislature 10 Comments (0 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Many of our people are struggling with wages they can barely get by on. The rising price of gasoline and groceries makes it even worse. At the same time, our legislators are lining their pockets with taxpayers' dollars in a move that is just totally wrong.

Our legislators should be ashamed of themselves. If there are those who oppose what their counterparts are doing, we've heard little from them. We urge our governor to take the hard line for the people of this state. Governor Jindal, we call on you to veto SB 672. It's the right thing to do.

Stand up, and let's acquit ourselves like men.

We might be more tearful if politicians, knowing legislative pay in advance, didn’t spend vast sums and considerable time and effort seeking election to the Legislature. They actually beg for those jobs, despite the pay they portray as woefully inadequate.

We’re not categorically opposed to a modest legislative pay raise, once it’s properly debated and justified in the normal legislative process. But the size of this raise, the provision for automatic increases and the late-in-the-session rush to pass this bill should concern everyone.

Lawmakers and the governor should take the weekend to calm down, listen to their constituents and think about what they’re about to do.

Stand up, and let's acquit ourselves like men.

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I don't get the visceral opposition so many Republicans have to actually paying legislators. Even a short sixty to ninety day session requires a member to be away from family and especially business for that time and being a legislator places demands on a person's time year round, not just during session. And yes I know the "they knew the pay when they ran" argument, but I don't think most candidates really know the time demands of being a legislator.

It has been and remains an issue here in Alaska as well where we pay legislators less than we pay clerks and it isn't fair to consider a reasonable per diem to be a part of their pay; they have to maintain a second residence while in session (those who live in Juneau, three of sixty, only get an office allowance). There were and remain reasons beyond mere avarice why the rarest sight in Juneau is that of a legislator reaching for his wallet when the tab comes. Let me assure you that there are always people around who are more than willing to reach for the tab if you're a legislator, high level staffer, or an appointee.

Those who will steal or make corrupt bargains will do so no matter what you pay them, but when the pay is so little and the sacrifice so great, even the honest get placed in potentially compromising situations. I know most of the legislators here, including the ones recently convicted in the ongoing corruption scandal. Only those legislators who were retired or had independent means were able to get along without some sometimes unseemly hustling for some paying opportunity. I don't know why Louisiana would be any different.

To make this a strictly Republican issue, look at the differences between our constituencies and the Democrat constituencies. The Ds have an endless supply of lawyers, non-profit employees, union employees, public employees - especially teachers to call on for candidates and appointees. All of those entities are more than happy to give someone a leave of absence in order to serve in a political office and where ethics acts allow it even continue their pay. Even where ethics acts prohibit it, the prohibition is easy to get around. Most of our constituency either works for private businesses or are small business owners themselves. Only the largest private businesses can and will give an employee an extended leave of absence even leave without pay. Most small businesses cannot afford to substitute a professional manager during a principal's absence, so the business either languishes or the officeholder tries to both do the duties of his office and keep his business running. Many people who we should be able to recruit as candidates or appointees simply cannot give up their businesses to hold the office. This is especially true of executive branch appointments which normally are real full-time (and then some) jobs. Poor pay significantly tilts the playing field toward the Democrats.

All that said, I don't know what the session length in LA is and how much demand is made on a member out of session but it would seem that if there is an annual session of sixty or more days, the money isn't out of line. Maybe the power play is unseemly but Jindal isn't the first nor will he be the last officeholder who had to make it look like he'd been dragged kicking and screaming into something.

In Vino Veritas

I know you're used to Alaska, where you guys have much, much, much more travel cost to worry about :-) Louisiana is a fairly compact, dense state. It can't be more than a couple hours' drive to get from anywhere in the state to Baton Rouge. That's more expensive than it used to be, but it's nothing like the travel costs of a US Representative, which is who these blowhards are blackmailing the Governor to tie their pay to.

And yeah, my first reaction was that this is livable. It's not great, but Jindal and the voters have their eyes on the important stuff, while these legislative losers are just proving how much in love of money they are. At least they're using their legislative offices to demand money in legal ways though, so it's an improvement.

So if I were there, I'd give Jindal a pass, but really rip into these legislators when they come up for re-election.

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I have no problem with paying legislators more money.

My problem is paying a part time legislator a full time salary and indexing said salary so that it increases every year at the same rate Congressional salaries increase and, unlike Congressional salaries, making it effective before an election.

Fight On!

But if we want to attract professional people who are smart and hard working it seems we have to pay them a decent rate to keep them involved. As for full time. I'd hate to have to live on 50k a year at this point in my life.

Also having worked more than one job several times when I was younger; combining a part time job with a full time one and family responsibilities can be a struggle. When possible we should reward people for their commitment, not make them essential pay to be involved in the process.

I say pay them but make sure there are term limits to run off the loiterers.

Whoops, sorry Neil. Got caught up in the moment. Thanks.

Stand up, and let's acquit ourselves like men.

turn out the light.

"Nothing works like freedom, Nothing succeeds like liberty"
Kyle

 
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