HomeNewsBig raise for Georgia lawmakers could be headed for statewide ballot

Big raise for Georgia lawmakers could be headed for statewide ballot

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by Dave Williams | Mar 15, 2022 | Capitol Beat News Service

Georgia voters would decide whether their representatives in the General Assembly should get a raise under a proposed constitutional amendment the state House of Representatives passed Tuesday.

The House approved the legislation 136-33, well above the two-thirds majority needed for constitutional amendments to clear the chamber. It now moves to the Georgia Senate.

If voters ratify the amendment in November, annual salaries for members of the state House of Representatives and Senate would be set at two-thirds of the median household income in Georgia.

Based on the state’s current median income of $58,000 a year, lawmakers would be paid nearly $39,000 annually. Legislators currently are paid just more than $17,000 a year.

Lawmakers haven’t gotten a raise since the 1990s, Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, the constitutional amendment’s chief sponsor, told his House colleagues before the vote.

The amount of the proposed raise was based on research conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures, which concluded that Georgia legislators typically work enough hours to justify two-thirds of a full-time position, Cantrell said.

The amendment would take effect in July of next year. After that date, lawmakers would no longer have any say over the politically dicey decision of how much they are paid.

“This is an issue that represents a conflict of interest for all of us,” Cantrell said. “This constitutional amendment protects us from having to recuse ourselves. … We will never have to address this issue again.”

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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