Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Editorial: Put the brakes on increase

It's more than a little ironic that Maryland lawmakers are wrangling over whether to raise the state's minimum wage even as they are set to see a hefty increase in their pay.

A salary commission recommended a 15.7 percent pay increase for lawmakers, already the 13th highest paid in the nation for their part-time gig. Lawmakers could kill the increase, but resolutions in the House and Senate to eliminate the increase aren't going anywhere.

Sen. David Brinkley, R-Carroll, Frederick, introduced Senate Resolution 0009. Sen. Joseph Getty is among others who have signed on to the resolution. In the House, Carroll delegates Nancy Stocksdale, Susan Krebs, Donald Elliott and Justin Ready have all signed on to House Resolution 0009, sponsored by District 5 Del. Wade Kach. That version also isn't seeing much movement among lawmakers.

The proposed increase would boost lawmaker pay from the current $43,500 to $50,330. That works out to $24.10 an hour if it were a regular, 40-hours-a-week, 52-weeks-a-year job. But the job is classified as part time, so that means the hourly rate, if there was one, would be much higher. Lawmakers also get additional benefits, such as travel and lodging and meal allowances.

Residents who work full-time jobs at a lower pay, and without the corresponding benefits, may wonder why lawmakers deserve such a hefty hike in pay. Given the wrangling over increasing the minimum wage - an increase that would put a full-time worker's pay at less than half of what lawmakers receive for their part-time gig - you'd think that pay issues would be a top concern in the legislature this session.

Even without that debate, the fact that the state continues to raise fees and taxes, even as it bemoans declining revenues and growing budget gaps, would seem reason enough for lawmakers to unanimously stand against such an extravagant waste of taxpayer money.

Lawmakers who through the recession years have defended tax or fee increases, cuts in state aid to schools or local governments and reductions in funding based on lower revenues are showing their hypocritical side when they don't give as much time and scrutiny to a plan that would boost their own pay by 15.7 percent.

Perhaps, before the session ends, lawmakers will do the right thing and decide that they can do without that hefty pay increase.