Legislative leaders signal pay-raise rejection

January 06, 2010|By Julie Bykowicz | julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

Hours after an independent commission on Tuesday recommended a small pay raise for Maryland lawmakers, legislative leaders said in no uncertain terms that they're not interested.

The General Assembly Compensation Commission suggested a one-time $2,000 salary bump in 2013 or 2014 if the state's unemployment rate drops to 5 percent or lower. It's now about 7 percent. Most lawmakers make $43,500 yearly; the House speaker and Senate president earn $56,500 each.

Commission Chairman Sean W. Glynn said the recommendation reflects the commission's desire to be "sensitive" by balancing current issues, such as pay freezes for state workers, with the fact that they won't meet again until 2014.

But House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said it's wrong to talk about raises - even ones that would come in the future - while the state grapples with at least a $1 billion budget deficit next year, on top of more than $1 billion in cuts that were made over the past year.

"We respectfully decline the salary recommendation of the commission," Busch said in a joint statement. Miller called the recommended increase "inappropriate."

By state law, the nine-member independent commission's recommendation must be introduced as a bill during the legislative session. Lawmakers can either accept it or reduce the amount. The leaders' joint statement indicates that it will likely be rejected.

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