May 6, 2015
To the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials:
As you may be aware, this has been a tough budget year. Both parties in the House and Senate are working to create a balanced budget that prioritizes our state’s spending.
Part of that prioritization is investing in our state employees. Although the two houses have some philosophical differences to what extent state employee pay will increase, we must be mindful of the importance our commitment to state employees plays in our budget negotiations.
Our main priority is funding education. We’ve worked vigorously to reverse trends that have put general government growth ahead of the state’s paramount duty for 30 years. This means that the budget does not allow for large pay increases for public employees, and that should include state legislators.
Now is not the time for the Commission to increase our pay by 11 percent. Collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Governor and the proposal in the Senate provide more realistic guidelines for providing pay increases. If the Commission wants to consider increasing legislator pay, it should be more reflective of what other state employees would receive.
A recent report by the National Conference of State Legislatures notes that in the past 12 months only nine states have increased legislator salaries. Additionally, raises in other states were more reflective of cost of living increases. For example, Oregon, whose legislator pay is tied to the consumer price index, increased legislator pay by only $336.
In light of our current budget situation and national trends around this issue, I urge the Commission’s reconsideration of their proposed increase in legislator pay. I understand that we want to attract good candidates to public office and pay is a component of that; however, this is not the time to give legislators an 11 percent raise.
20th Legislative District