We’re not naming names, but the overall quality of public officials and candidates for office seems to be steadily declining. One of the big reasons for this is undoubtedly that those jobs pay peanuts for thankless work. That is why it was refreshing to see bipartisan support for a bill that would give our elected officials a much needed pay raise starting in 2019.
According to the Associated Press, the governor would get a 30 percent pay hike, from $90,000 a year to about $117,000 a year, and state lawmakers would see pay raises of 27 percent, from $30,000 a year to about $38,000 a year.
These folks don’t need to be raking in Wall Street-sized salaries, but in order to attract talented people to run our State we should at least be offering fair salaries. Otherwise, the only people who can afford to serve in the state legislature are either A) rich already or B) don’t mind scraping by on $30,000/year. For comparison, the median income of a single earner in Colorado is about $50,000. Even though the legislature is only in session part time, those folks inevitably end up working year round and that does affect their ability to earn a living.
And let’s face it, being governor is a pretty important job. We want and need to attract talented candidates. For someone smart enough and skilled enough to run the state well, $90,000 doesn’t sound like a very competitive salary. Yes, it’s a lot of money to a lot of people, but at the executive level it falls short of what someone can make in the private sector.
The bill hasn’t made it through both chambers yet, and it is running short on time. But we strongly believe this kind of measure would improve the overall quality of people who volunteer to serve in public office, and that is good for everyone.