Taylor seeks to repeal pay raise

Published 8:47 pm Monday, February 28, 2011

As the Alabama Legislature convenes today freshman Sen. Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, is ready to make his mark by cosponsoring a bill to repeal lawmakers’ 62 percent pay raise passed in 2007.

“This will be a historical legislative session because it’s the first time the Alabama Legislature has met in a regular session under Republican leadership since Reconstruction,” Taylor said on Monday. “We’ve already met once in a special session on ethics reform, but this is the first time we will come together to pass budgets and take up legislation on practically any subject.”

Among the bills Taylor said he will be introducing or co-sponsoring this Legislative Session are:

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• A bill to ensure Troy University is treated the same as all other universities in the PACT plan;

• A bill to give a 200 percent tax deduction to small businesses and their employees for health insurance premium payments, something which Taylor says will not only reduce the cost of doing business, which creates jobs, but also institute a free-market approach to making health insurance more accessible and affordable for the class of employees least likely to be covered at work;

• A bill to repeal the Legislature’s almost 62 percent pay raise;

• A bill to require pre-recorded campaign phone calls to include a statement disclosing who is paying for them;

• And bill to require lobbyists to disclose 100 percent of their spending on public officials.

Taylor, whorepresents Pike County, said these bills and many others are issues he and his conservative colleagues are prepared to deal with.

“I believe under conservative, Republican, leadership, we will tackle these issues in this session that the Legislature dodged for far too long,” Taylor said. “That includes cutting wasteful pork spending, cracking down on illegal immigration, budgeting responsibly to eliminate proration, strengthening free enterprise, passing pro-life legislation, and continuing to make government more open, honest, and accountable to the people.”

Taylor joined fellow Republican Sens. Gerald Dial and Dick Brewbaker Monday in sponsoring a resolution to repeal the legislative pay raise enacted in 2007, which boosted state lawmaker’s pay that year by nearly 62 percent.

“I said during my campaign that the legislative pay raise was wrong,” Taylor said, in a statement issued Monday. “Legislators should never be able to vote themselves a pay raise during their current term of office. I’m proud to stand with Sen. Dial as a co-sponsor of this resolution.”

Repealing the pay raise would result in a $21,936 pay cut for every state senator and representative, saving taxpayers more than $3 million a year, according to Taylor’s release.

Legislative compensation has risen by nearly 72 percent since 2007 because lawmakers also gave themselves annual automatic cost-of-living adjustments in the 2007 act.

Today, lawmakers receive annual compensation of $52,596, compared with just $30,660 four years ago, according to the Legislative Fiscal Office.

Taylor said he understands the concerns his fellow senators may have about the repeal, but he believes it is the right thing to do.

“Some of my freshman colleagues have legitimate points,” Taylor said in his statement. “We weren’t in the Legislature in 2007, we didn’t vote ourselves a pay raise and many of us took pay cuts or gave up full-time jobs in the private sector to serve in the Legislature. But, I still believe the 2007 pay raise was improperly enacted and that we should repeal it, and if there is a better, more accountable plan for reasonable compensation, then it ought to go to a vote of the people who elected us.”

Taylor also announced his follow-through on his campaign promise not to keep his share of the pay raise, but to give it away to help first-year public school teachers in his Senate district (District 30) purchase classroom supplies.

“Six out of seven school systems in my district had to cut teachers’ classroom supply allowances this year,” Taylor said. “That means teachers are having to pay for basic supplies, like copy paper, out of their own pockets.”

According to information provided to Taylor by the Legislative Fiscal Office, the pay raise represents $1,828 of a legislator’s monthly expense allowance in a full month, which is paid at the end of each month.

Taylor will distribute $5,362 among the school systems in Senate District 30. The allocation represents Taylor’s share of the pay raise accruing from November through the end of January.

“It may not seem like much, but it’s enough to provide first-year public school teachers in my district with about $60 each to help them buy some supplies for the classroom,” Taylor said, adding the checks will be distributed by the end of this week

Taylor said in his statement he anticipates the checks will be distributed by the end of this week.

February is not included in the allocation because Taylor notified Senate accounting staff to stop paying his share of the pay raise effective Feb. 1, saying he is satisfied with the new Republican leadership’s efforts to cut out wasteful spending in the Legislature’s budget, according to his statement

“The necessity of cutting budgets this year presents an opportunity to trim the fat out of state government and reform or eliminate programs or services that simply haven’t been getting the job done,” Taylor said. “We can’t afford to keep doing things the same way. In flush budget years, every agency just got what they received last year, plus some. It didn’t matter if they were producing positive results. This year, we’re going to have to do more performance-based budgeting, which means that if an agency is failing, then the money should probably go somewhere else where we can put it to good use.”