Colorado state lawmakers, Democrats mostly, are complaining about their full-time salary for working 240 days of legislative session over their two-year term for an estimated $144,000 in salary and benefits.
The complaints carried by Colorado Politics in a recent cover story are as galling as they are petty and annoying.
Working-class politicians have to hold down another job as well, they complain. So they have to work really hard and make sacrifices for the honor of representing their community in the legislature and serving their needs as citizen lawmakers.
From Colorado Politics:
When asking working-class legislators how the legislature could work better for them, two primary answers arose: A full-time structure and higher pay.
Wrong question. How can the legislature work better for its constituency? The answer is never to take more of their money for yourself.
New York is cited as an example of employing full-time career lawmakers, where they earn a base salary of $284,00 a term plus a cushy retirement pension and benefits.
And look how that’s working out for New York.
But Colorado has term limits designed to ensure we are governed by citizen lawmakers, not entrenched politicians making six-figure salaries.
We need working class lawmakers to ensure that working class Coloradans are represented, not to employ folks just looking for higher paying jobs.
George Brauchler writes in the Denver Gazette:
For those legislators quick to remind Coloradans that “they work much more than a 120-day legislative session,” I can hear the refrain from teachers, office workers, health care staff and on and on — that they each work far more than the hours for which they are compensated. Many of them make less than legislators.
Instead of increasing their salaries and benefits, Brauchler proposes we scale back their workload instead from 120 days of session, to 60.
Those who see government as the answer to social ills will dismiss this approach as coming from those who fail to not recognize how smart and caring and special legislators are and how they just want to do good. Guilty as charged.
Lest we or they forget, service in these public positions is not compelled. Don’t like the pay and per diem and the PERA retirement and the demands on time? Resign. It would be refreshing.
Voters would be wise to ask prospective political candidates if they are running for office to serve the public good, or just looking to make money.