That State Rep. Brandon McGee parked his BMW in a handicapped parking spot at a Dunkin’ Donuts on Capitol Avenue in Hartford is bad enough. I know the 5th District Democrat, who represents a portion of Hartford and Windsor apologized. As I stated elsewhere, a real apology would be to donate the $150 he would have been fined – had he been nabbed by a cop – to his favorite charity.
On a larger scale, however, the Connecticut General Assembly needs to apologize to the taxpayers of the state on how they inflate their salaries in a part-time legislature. What caught my eye, when McGee’s arrogant parking mistake went virile, thanks to blogger Kevin Brookman on his website We The People Hartford.blogspot.com, was that in only his third year in the legislature, McGee is an Assistant Majority Leader. Really?
How does one become a leader of anything in just the first year of a second term? Easy. Just show up.
By being dubbed an “Assistant Majority Leader,” McGee gets an additional stipend, on top of his base pay of $28,000 annually. And it is not just McGee. It is just about anyone in the General Assembly from both major parties, who is not a freshman. Become a committee co-chairman, and your salary bumps up to $30,403. Be named deputy leader in either the House or Senate and you’re up to $34,446. Leaders, of course, make the most. Not one state senator earns just a base salary.
On top of their inflated salaries, all lawmakers earn a “miscellaneous” expense account that does not have to be documented. House members get $4,500 per year and Senate members $5,500 annually. Serve 10 years or more in the legislature and you get a taxpayer-funded health care plan that is better than most in the private sector.
Not surprisingly, lawmakers defend their pay, claiming they work full-time in their part-time job. They also
argue they have not had a raise since 2001.
I would argue, if serving in the legislature is such a “hardship,” why are so many people scrambling to run for office? I would also argue it is by choice the legislature has chosen to run its operation as a full-time venture. The General Assembly could easily go back to having its “workload” reduced to part-time, if it so desired.
Maybe it’s time Connecticut adopt New Hampshire’s approach. Lawmakers in the “Granite State” make $200 per two-year term. Or better yet, why not New Mexico. State lawmakers in the “Land of Enchantment” are not compensated. Don’t count on that happening in Connecticut. You have a better chance of getting nabbed parking in a handicapped parking spot, than seeing a mass movement to lower the pay of Connecticut members of the General Assembly.