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October 17, 2013

Lawmakers won’t get any raises this year

NORMAN — Oklahoma lawmakers earn $38,400 per year and won’t be getting a pay raise any time soon. That’s the decision of the Legislative Compensation Board. They meet every two years and determine if lawmakers are worthy of a pay raise.

We think their decision is a sound one. They haven’t had an across-the-board raise since 1998, but the per diem compensation has increased.

In a time when state officials are warning agencies to prepare for flat or reduced budgets, it doesn’t make good fiscal or political sense to raise the salaries across the board.

A former state senator from Tulsa who serves on the compensation board suggested a raise to $44,000. Charles Ford said being a legislator is a full-time job and raising the pay would produce more “independence” among legislators.

Oklahoma ranks 16th nationally in overall compensation. Besides the salary, lamakers can receive $147 per day in housing and travel reimbursement, plus health insurance and retirement options.

We don’t think serving in the Oklahoma legislature was ever intended to be a full-time job. Most of our local legislators have other employment. Two are lawyers. One is a senior law student. One is a banker, and one is a pharmacist-businessman.

The session runs from February through May, and some lawmakers request interim study sessions.

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