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Senators voted themselves a pay raise

February 29, 2000
By: Dan Shaw
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1114, House Roll Call Vote, Senate Roll Call Vote

JEFFERSON CITY - A pay increase for legislators sailed through the Senate Monday on a 24-6 vote. Legislators' $86 per diem is being withheld because of a recent court ruling and will not resume until the bill is approved, said a spokesman for the Office of Administration, an executive branch agency.

The increase was part of a supplemental appropriations bill to provide extra funds to various government programs for the remaining four months of this fiscal year. The Senate made not one change to the bill as it was approved earlier this month by the House.

Under his line-item veto powers, the governor can reduce or eliminate the legislative pay boost while signing the rest of the bill.

If approved by the governor, the bill would raise legislators' annual salary $1,500 to $30,580. The salary increase is retroactive through 1999 if the governor signs the bill. Per diem payments would also be reimbursed.

One opponent, Sen. Joe Maxwell, D-Mexico, who is running for lieutenant governor, said he opposed the measure because it only addressed the legislature.

"I'm not against pay increases," Maxwell said. "I just believe that if you are going to reimburse one group you should do the same for everyone."

The legislature should not be the only beneficiary of such a bill, Maxwell said.

"We had to get that bill through if we wanted to keep our government running," said Sen. Wayne Goode, D-St. Louis County, who handled the supplemental spending bill in the Senate as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

If approved by the governor, it would bring legislators' salaries in compliance with salaries proposed last year by a commission responsible for recommending state employee salaries. Goode has proposed legislation to abolish the commission.

Last year, Gov. Mel Carnahan vetoed a similar spending increase, saying it would not hold up under a Supreme Court decision that mandates uniform salary increases.

In that case, most state employees received a 5 percent boost, while the legislature gave itself a smaller increase.

The disproportionate increase was illegal under a court decision mandating uniform salary increases, as interpreted by the Governor's Office of Administration.