JEFFERSON CITY - For the second day in a row, members of the Missouri Senate blocked consideration of a proposal that would reject a 5.5 percent increase in legislative salaries for each of the next two years.
Sen. Marvin Singleton, R-Joplin, urged his colleagues to ignore a recommendation from the Missouri Citizen's Commission on Compensation that the salary for lawmakers increase to more than $34,000 in 2003, up from just more than $31,000 in the current fiscal year.
But few in the Senate have publicly endorsed the Singleton proposal, voicing concern that the resolution would unnecessarily hamstring the legislature, which could review the proposed pay hike during the appropriations process.
Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, for example, has emerged as a vociferous opponent of the proposal, arguing that the salary increases would be best addressed during the appropriations process.
"I don't know whether the Senate should try to fix a broken system, or as my children put it, break it worse," said Sen. Betty Sims, R-St. Louis County. "I looked to the legal eagles to tell me if this would fix it, and the answer was no. So I really can't support this resolution."
For his part, Singleton argued that if brought to a vote, the measure would easily pass the Senate.
"I know that there are senators that think this is right, that think we have to look at the entire budget before we allow this pay increase," Singleton said, predicting that as many as 26 of 34 Senators would vote in favor of rejecting the salary increase.