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Senatorial Salary Increases Could Make Sense

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Dear Source:
Allow me to offer a perspective slightly different from the normal gut wrenching "Nay" on the senatorial salary increase of $20,000. On the surface this increase seems exorbitant and unjustified. Objectively, the term exorbitant may not fit since the increase represents approximately 1.76 % per year over 15 years – hardly "exorbitant" by any standard. "Justified", however, is a whole nother pot of fish.
To assess justified, we need to ask ourselves whether we will be satisified with a citizen legislature or a professional legislature. A citizen legislature (parttime legislature) is one that earns its daily bread from some other job and does not rely on their legislative salary as their fundamental source of income — in substance, "a civic duty legislature" — If we want a citizen legislature then clearly a $65,000 salary and worse, an $85,000 salary is unjustified.
Given the complexity and gravity of the issues our society must face on a constant basis, I, however, believe we need and want a professional legislature. One that has the individual capacity (senators with actual individual skill and training) and collective ability (adequate support staff expertise that will be provided competent guidance/management from the individual senators).
We want a legislature that will be working 8 to 10 or 12 hours a day and available 24/7. This is the level of commitment we need. We need a legislature that will be Accountable, Functional, Independent and Responsive to address the needs of the common man. We need a body that initiates policy rather than one that is an arbiter of policies initiated by others such as big business or well financed special interests. I think that if we have these qualities in a professional body, then a $65,000 or $85,000 salary in not unjustified.
Jose L. George
St. Thomas

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