House speaker says he'll pass up his $5,000 raise

Speaker of the House R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. announced today that he will give up his entire $5,000 legislative pay raise. He said other delegates will be given the same opportunity to show their concern for the state budget.

Mitchell, D-Eastern Shore, said the House will set up a voluntary payroll deduction plan that will enable lawmakers to return part or all of their pay increases to the state's general fund or to a charitable organization.


"You lead by example and that's what we're trying to do," Mitchell said.

Under legislation passed last year, Mitchell's annual salary was to climb from $32,000 to $37,000, starting this month. Salaries for the 140 other delegates are increasing from $25,000 to $27,000.


Mitchell also said he is freezing three vacant job positions in his office.

The decision to offer the payroll deduction option came after a number of delegates told the speaker they were concerned about the poor condition of the state budget. The Schaefer administration is working to cut a projected $433 million deficit from the current year's budget.

"They have a conscience," Mitchell said. "They are concerned that they have a role in this budget process."

Lawmakers and the Schaefer administration have come under criticism lately because they received pay raises while state employee salaries have been frozen.

So far, Schaefer has not responded to suggestions that he refuse his 41 percent pay raise. The 47 members of the state Senate also received pay raises, but so far have not volunteered to return any of their salaries.