Virginia speaker says nay to pay hike for politicians

A proposal to double the pay of Virginia General Assembly members will get a chilly reception from House Speaker William J. Howell.

Increasing legislative salaries from $17,640 a year for delegates and $18,000 for senators to $33,000 for both was one of several ideas endorsed by Gov.Terry McAuliffe's Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in Government.

But Howell's office told AMI Newswire Wednesday that he and other legislators aren't interested in raises. 

Former congressman Rick Boucher, the commission's co-chairman, told a press conference last week: "We are suggesting that the combined total of what [legislators] get for expenses, $15,000, and what they currently receive as statutory salary, be combined, and that be stated as their official salary. So they would get a salary of $33,000 per year."

Boucher said this would bring Virginia legislators' pay more in line with that of other states. The commission's written report says higher salaries "increases transparency by clearly separating compensation from funding intended for legislative staff and office expenses," in addition to helping "promote diversity."

General Assembly members' pay was last increased in 1988.

Funding for staff and office expenses would be included as new spending. The commission recommended adopting the current $15,000 sum for staff and office, but also recommended the amount be adjusted each year for inflation.

The pay increase proposal is unlikely to get very far in the 2016 legislative session. Matthew Moran, spokesman for House Speaker William J. Howell, told AMI Newswire, "the Speaker is not interested in a pay increase, and he believes the House as a whole has no interest, either."

Of the states bordering Virginia, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Maryland pays its lawmakers the most - $43,500 a year - while Kentucky pays the least - $1,788.51 a month. Kentucky's legislators meet for 60 days in even-numbered years, and 30 days in odd-numbered years.