Lawmakers Brief: Pay Increase For Legislators Heads Toward Ga. House Floor
Pay increases could be on the horizon for legislators under the Gold Dome in Georgia. Chairman Wes Cantrell presented HB 675 on Wednesday to the House Committee on Rules, which determines which bills should be debated and voted on the Georgia House floor.
“Legislatures similar to our state receive an average of $41,000 in salary according to the House budget and research office,” Cantrell said. “The formula used by the state compensation commission also suggested a salary of around $41,000 even though the recommendation is $29,908.”
He added that as a working group for this bill, they decided to go with the state compensation commission recommendations. This means, although legislators get an increase, it will still be 25% lower than the average overall of legislators their size nationwide.
One of the main reasons for the pay increase is that the size of the district a legislator serves has increased considerably since the 1990s, the last time salaries were addressed.
Cantrell said that despite the challenges, many serve because they love their state.
“It appears that it’s limited to the rich, the poor, those who are married to someone with a good salary and people like those of us in this room this morning who love our state so much, they will serve no matter what,” he said.
HB 675 follows the 2017 recommendation. It also indexes the pay so that salaries do not come under discussion again. The bill will also bring equity to those who are 50 miles away from the Capitol.
House Speaker David Ralston echoed the need for the legislation during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. He said the measure was "appropriate" based on the recommendations of the commission's findings.
Dean of the House, Rep. Calvin Smyre, reflected on his salary when he started at the Capitol, saying, “ When I was elected, it was $2,400 a year.” Smyre commended Cantrell on the comprehensive bill and said the bill “goes a long way.”
Cantrell said when the working group was formed, that there has never been “more rabid agreement between Republicans and Democrats than there was in the room in discussing this topic.”
The motion passed unanimously. The bill would go into effect in 2023.