ANNAPOLIS -- Senators voted overwhelmingly last night to give up $500 of next year's $1,000 raise, a symbolic gesture that would direct less than $25,000 back to the state's general fund.
The Senate voted 43-3 in favor of the simple resolution introduced by Sen. Frederick C. Malkus Jr., D-Dorchester. Technically, that majority carried the vote.
But, because the state constitution bars senators and delegates from taking action on their own salaries, the Legislative Accounting Office will ask each senator if he or she wants to take the $500 cut, the first half of next year's raise. Those who object do not have to follow the Senate vote -- regardless of how they actually voted.
The three senators who voted against the measure last night -- Mary Boergers, D-Montgomery, John A. Cade, R-Anne Arundel, and Patricia R. Sher, D-Montgomery -- said they objected to what Ms. Sher described as "a charade of public embarrassment."
"What is the purpose of this, other than to publicly humiliate people who may not be able to take this pay cut?" she asked on the Senate floor.
And Ms. Boergers said she preferred to direct her raise to charities she had chosen.
What better charity than the state's depleted general fund? asked Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat. "All of these arguments could be made by state employees," Ms. Hoffman added, referring to the frozen wages and furlough days state workers have been asked to accept.