Legislators to get raises over 4 years Inaction will lead to 6 percent increase

March 10, 1998|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

Maryland's 188 part-time lawmakers will receive a 6 percent pay raise over four years because the legislature is taking no steps to change the recommendation of a special commission.

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman announced the legislative raises last night after the Senate voted 39-5 to increase the salaries of judges in the state by roughly 10 percent this year.

At least one senator criticized the large increase for the judges while social workers, janitors and other unionized state workers are likely only to receive raises of $1,275 each, for many the first in three years.

But even though it's an election year, none of the senators spoke against raising legislators' pay. The first increase will go into effect Jan. 1 and raise their pay from an annual $29,700 to $30,591. The second raise is to $31,509 in 2001. The Senate president and House speaker are paid an additional $10,000.

"The legislative one is such a little bit of money, I don't think it's an issue," said Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Budget and Taxation Committee.

A commission proposed the raises for the judges and legislators. If the General Assembly does not vote to reduce the recommendation, the raises automatically take effect.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening turned down the commission's proposal to increase the governor's salary from $120,000 to $135,000, which would have been the highest in the nation. The Senate, which passed a measure rescinding the proposed gubernatorial pay raise, also split up the $11,275 increase for judges into two installments.

Sen. Michael J. Collins, a Baltimore County Democrat who was among the five to vote against the judges' raises, said they receive larger salaries and have an easier work week than many lesser-paid state employees.

"Simply put," he said, "it is an insult to the working people of our state who aren't getting anything like a 10 percent increase. I think it's the wrong message to send."

Pub Date: 3/10/98

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