by Andrew Walden
Thanks to last year’s 31% pay raise, Hawaii now sports the nation’s most highly paid part time legislators according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Hawaii’s $48,708 per year salary tops the 41 states with part-time legislatures. Only nine states allow legislators to meet year round. Hawaii's part-timers are nearly as well paid as the full-time legislators of New Jersey ($49,000/year) and Wisconsin ($49,943/year). And New Jersey does not pay per-diem to its legislators.
Hawaii is confronting a $1.23 Billion budget shortfall due to declining tax revenues caused by the Obama recession. While legislators enjoy their new-found wealth, state employees are being asked to accept salary cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. Taxpayers are ordered to dig deeper.
In contrast to Hawaii's profligacy, New Hampshire pays its 424 Legislators a token $100/year. Alabama pays $1050/year. Even Texas pays only $7,200 per year.
With a population slightly larger than Hawaii, New Hampshire's 2010 budget shortfall is projected to be a piddling $70 Million.
Tops in legislative largesse? California which forks out $95,291/year to its full-time legislators. Interestingly, California is one of the few states with budget problems worse than Hawaii's.
The second highest paid part-time legislators are in Maryland. Maryland is facing a $2 Billion budget shortfall.
Whoever said “you get what you pay for” must have meant it ironically.
Maybe we could swap for 76 of New Hampshire's $100/year models.
NCSL: Legislator Compensation 2009
NCSL: Full and Part-Time Legislatures