Pay increases and penalties for public officials are lumped together in one proposal on next Tuesday’s ballot.
One part of Amendment Seven is fine for supporters and critics alike—the one that takes away pensions of any legislator, judge, or statewide office-holder who is convicted of a felony in office.
But the other part is the troublemaker. It’s the one that redefines procedures for giving pay raises to legislators, judges, and statewide officers. A salary study commission, which already exists, recommends new salary levels…and they go into effect unless the legislature rejects them. The sponsor of the bill, Representative Scott Llipke of Jackson, says it takes a bigger vote to say ‘no.” Present law says the raises can be rejected by a simple majority. Amendment seven says it takes a two-thirds vote to reject raises.
And that’s precisely why Representative Jeff Harris of Columbia says voters should reject the proposal. He says the proposal makes raises automatic if the legislature does not take action and make sit harder for the legisalture to take the action rejecting the hikes.
Harris says it’s the wrong proposal to make when the legislature is cutting funding of programs and services.
The legislature has never accepted recommendations of the salary commission in the decade it’s been in business. But in doing so, it has not only rejected raises for its members, but it also has rejected increases for executive branch officers and top state judges.