House speaker to return his pay raise

January 26, 1991|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- With the state facing major budget cutbacks this year, House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, said yesterday that he will return his $5,000 pay raise to the state treasury and has set up a payroll account so other delegates can do the same.

"It's only fair, if we're going to ask our districts to undergo some hardships and sacrifice, that we look to our own selves," Mr. Mitchell said.

Beginning Jan. 1, legislators' salaries rose $2,000 from $25,000 to $27,000. Salaries for the two presiding officers, Mr. Mitchell and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, rose from $32,000 to $37,000.

Mr. Mitchell said several delegates had asked him for a voluntary payroll payback program. He said he will leave it up to individual delegates to decide whether to have any money taken from their monthly paychecks.

If delegates do choose to have the money deducted, it will be returnedto the state's general fund, he said. If all 141 delegates gave their money back, it would save the state $284,500.

Mr. Miller said he and other Senate leaders will wait until the fiscal 1992 budget arrives next week before deciding whether to install a similar program for senators.

If the Senate participates, the state would save another $96,500 for a total of $381,000.

"I think the record should indicate that the amount we're talking about is extremely small and largely symbolic," Mr. Miller said. "I'm not one for symbolism myself."

Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who publicly suggested last month that all top state officials forgo pay raises, has decided to return $5,000 to the state, a spokesman said. Mr. Goldstein's salary rose from $72,500 to $100,000 this year.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer received the largest pay increase of all state employees this year when his annual salary jumped from $85,000 to $120,000. He has so far resisted suggestions that he return the $35,000 raise.

"The governor has decided he is not going to defer a salary increase this year," said Paul E. Schurick, the governor's spokesman. "He works an average 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and he feels he's being fairly compensated."

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