You get what you pay for

The Seattle Times editorialized yesterday that a citizens commission used sound logic in freezing the pay of Washington state elected officials over the next two years, a sentiment with which I can’t argue in light of our current budgetary woes. But at the same time I think it needs to be pointed out that at only $42,000 a year, we don’t pay our state legislators nearly enough to attract a large pool of qualified candidates.

Yes, that’s right… those same legislators at whom I’m still more than a little pissed off for their collective lack of creativity and courage during the past session… I’m arguing we need to pay them more, perhaps even double. In fact, I’d argue that the body’s lack of effectiveness is at least partially due to the low pay, and the sort of candidates who can afford to accept it.

What we get now are basically two groups of candidates: the very wealthy, who don’t need the money, or the kinda candidate who looks at $42K and thinks “Hey… I’ll be living large!” There’s also a third group in the middle, who accepts the job and the huge cut in standard of living that comes with it, out of a sense of public service or narcissism or both, but those sort of legislators become fewer and fewer as the gap between what legislators could earn and what they do earn grows ever larger.

Now I know some of you will retort that $42K ain’t bad for a part-time legislature that only meets in session for six months out of every two years, but I’d argue that the job is only part-time if you’re doing it wrong. The best, most effective legislators are the ones who make themselves available to citizens, interest groups and their colleagues year round, providing constituent services while seeking community input and expert opinions as they prepare legislation and strategies for our artificially condensed sessions. And for state reps, hell, running for office every two years is a full time job in itself.

So if we insist on maintaining the fiction that this is a part-time job, and continue to compensate accordingly, well, if I remember my Adam Smith correctly, you get what you pay for. The wealthy legislators (think Eastside Dems), however pure their intentions, can’t help but lose touch with the struggles of average Washingtonians, while the pool of less affluent, highly qualified candidates, willing and able to make the financial sacrifices necessary to serve, grows ever smaller. And, more compromised, for we’ve virtually designed a system that requires many legislators to leverage their political expertise and position to earn outside income.

The shrinking size and power of the legislative middle class is reflected in a body whose politics and priorities have increasingly come to resemble a caricature of economic reality, where thoughtful policy debates have been replaced by B-movie showdowns between evil industrialists and union bosses. Or so it often seems. What’s lost in all this are passionate, effective voices who not only understand the needs and aspirations of the vast majority of Washingtonians, but who live this life every day.  Oh, we have plenty of legislators who walk the walk, and plenty more who talk the talk. What we’re sorely lacking are knowledgeable, competent, and courageous legislators who are able to do both.

This hollowing out of the political class—this increasing dominance of amateurs and hobbyists—can only lead to the election of legislators who are less capable of representing the needs of their constituents, or who lack the empathy to do so. For example, much has been made year after year about how Washington state consistently lags well behind the national average in teacher pay, but you gotta wonder how much sympathy this earns the profession in Olympia, when the average teacher still makes several thousand dollars a year more than the legislators who sign their paychecks? Perhaps this partially explains a Legislature that could pat itself on the back for passing landmark education reform, while obstinately refusing to even entertain the notion of honestly debating the kind of tax restructuring that would be necessary to make full funding of these reforms even a remote possibility?

So yeah, sure… now’s the wrong time to increase legislative pay. Not during this recession, in the midst of this outsized budget crisis. But if we want a Legislature better capable of handling the next budget crisis—or perhaps even avoiding it entirely—it’s past time to start thinking about paying a wage that might attract a more capable class of legislators.

Comments

  1. 1

    spews:

    We’d be better served if a legislating was a full(er)-time job.

    Governing is large, complicated, etc. I’ve observed that part-time state legislators are over dependent on department heads, lobbyists, and “executive” electeds (governor, secretary of state, etc). Plus, they don’t have enough staff to be experts in every issue that comes up.

    I imagine that by the time a legislator has enough experience to act wisely (a decade?), they’re burned out.

  2. 2

    SJ spews:

    Goldy ..

    AND ..our current system is inherently corrupt because many businesses and unions support “their” legislators by providing jobs with release time or providing for jobs after a period of “community” service.

    Some years ago as an educational activist I discovered that Boeing, via employees serving as legislators, held key posts in education.

    It would be wonderful if every state legislatos had to disclose all their sources of income and wealth .. but then nobody would run!

    So, I will one up you …

    I think we should mandate the more stable job, State Senator, must be held as a full time job with appropriate pay and disclosure.

    I would leave the representatives pretty much as they are but require identification of any employer paying for more than some proportion of the rep’s salary.

    Maybe we need the soviet system? Instead of reps from geographic areas, we can have the state reps from Boeing, Amazon, the SEIU, and, of course DL! The Supreme Soviet even had reps from the chess clubs!

  3. 3

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    sj–
    Look at Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim.
    Firefighter.
    The Unions brought folks up to the Olympic Peninsula to bang on doors and make phone calls. It was a joke.

    I suppose you could try to put forth your plan…I believe in full disclosure, but there are massive loopholes and minor consequences now. Really hard to put a security fence around this.

    Anyway, keep trying, because the current system has gotten us some really inept governance and a huge projected future deficit to rassle.

  4. 4

    jon spews:

    But at the same time I think it needs to be pointed out that at only $42,000 a year, we don’t pay our state legislators nearly enough to attract a large pool of qualified candidates.

    ———

    Speaking of which, let’s also bump up jury pay, which remains where it was in 1959 in Washington state. .. . state legislators do at least receive compensation for this.

  5. 5

    SJ spews:

    @3

    odd to be in the same boat with you.

    I would focus on the Senate as the House terms are too short for any sort of career commitment by the State. However, if you wanna be a Senator , then you should commit to full time and we should pay enough to make that possible .. even if that means decreasing the numbe3r of senators. If the UsovA can make do with 100 Senators, I suspect WA state could do it with 30. BTW, those jobs would have more clout and be more attractive as well because of the clout.

    At the House level I see nothing wrong with their being reps from the NEA, the NRA, the NAACP, and NARAL, and Boeing … as long as there is clear labeling.

  6. 6

    Deb Eddy spews:

    Goldy, I’m going to argue that you get a lot more than you pay for. The compensation is just part of the equation. Other elements that play into the legislative outcome:

    (1) There are TWO policy bodies (Senate and House) that feed into a single stream of bills going to the EXECUTIVE’s desk. So you’ve got a triangulation going on, three different perspectives … leading to a single composite outcome (session bills). Lots of mash up of policy priorities goes on there.

    (2) The groups are LARGE — 98 in the House, 49 in the Senate. Anyone who took any group or organizational psych classes in college (or has done any of that sort of work) knows that leadership in groups this large is tough, requires a background of effective, focused organizational “machinery.” We have some of that, but not nearly enough.

    (3) There are two parties out there constantly raising funds and trying to recruit candidates that appeal to the base and that can survive a primary … leading to a certain degree of polarity in the group, at least on some issues. Moderates (who I would argue are the real problem-solvers) are sometimes pariahs in BOTH parties … being considered RINOs or DINOs (depending on your POV). The more ideologically pure may have the upper hand in policy (and I suspect you’d agree with many of their positions), but following that path too well can result in a party being tossed out of power rather abruptly. The swing voters call the races.

    (4) Stakeholder groups lend their own color to the festivities. Sometimes, issues on which there should be some sort of clear compromise get caught up in a stakeholder war. The drama can get really ramped up, as nonprofit groups use these sorts of issues to raise funds and their group profile in advocacy work. Watch the rash of celebratory fundraising breakfast and lunches in the interim for evidence of these groups’ clout.

    On a final note, I’ve got to defend Kevin Van De Wege … YES, he’s a firefighter, and you might expect him to reliably take the firefighter point of view. For all I know, the firefighters did import folks to doorbell for him. And that would be different from any other advocacy group precisely HOW? Kevin has proven to be a damned good legislator … taking on non-firefighter issues on the TEC (Technology, Energy and Communication committee) like clean energy, improving opportunities for biomass as clean fuel, improving vegetation management in rights of ways … He is no single-issue legislator.

    I’m not sure where I fit into your categories of legislators … probably not very complementary. Compensation is NOT a factor for me, and I would worry a lot if the compensation got too sweet. Historically, legislators leave the state house and run for a county council position … and then stay there until retirement, raising funds constantly to stave off opposition. Up the compensation for the legislature too much and you’d just end up with that same stasis at the state level. Not good.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. I’m going back to reading background on tolling administrative issues. :-) /d

  7. 7

    Michael spews:

    Yeah, what #1 said.

    Being part of the state leg. is already a full time job, we need to own up to that.

  8. 9

    Richard Pope spews:

    Why should we increase the pay of state legislators — who make $42,000 per year, plus per diem and generous employee benefits — when so many citizens and residents of this state are hurting because of budget cuts just passed by these same legislators?

    Almost one out of ten Washington residents who are seeking employment are not able to find any. And this does not include people who are discouraged from seeking a job due to the hopeless job situation or having to take care of children or other family member.

    If any of our 147 supposedly underpaid legislators no longer feels like doing their job, due to the paltry $42K per year part-time salary, I am sure that a high percentage of our growing unemployed population would gladly take the job if offered to them. Many of the unemployed would do as good a job, if not better, than most of our incumbents.

    Heck, I bet that even a complaining fellow like Goldy would glad take the legislator job and the pay that goes with it.

  9. 10

    ArtFart spews:

    This is why I’ve objected to the idea of term limits. An ordinary Joe or Jane with a career and a family can’t reasonably be expected to put all that aside, serve in office for a few years, and then go back and pick up where they left off. This means that a lot of offices would attract mainly the rich and priveleged, a few retirees (Lloyd Hara comes to mind) and some ambitious folks who’d see the office as a stepping stone to something higher or an opportunity to steal everything they could in a few years.

  10. 12

    spews:

    “You get what you pay for.” Over 850 employees in King County government make over $175,000 per year. What does everyone think about the job King County is doing?

  11. 13

    SJ spews:

    Look at it this way.

    Suppose MS announced that it was cutting its maximum pay to $50,000. Would you buy, sell or hold that stock?

  12. 15

    rhp6033 spews:

    Part-time legislatures, (in general) tend to facilitate a legislature that is full of the self-employed (real estate agents, developers, lawyers, etc.). Some see it as fullfillment of civic obligations, but many others see it as a loss-leader which brings in more and higher-paying business – perhaps with the expectation that this legislature also has some “pull” with administrative officials.

    Also encouraged by a part-time legislative position are managers of mid-sized and firmly established family businesses, who can safely turn their day-to-day responsibilities over to someone in the family for a few months every other year.

    A “salary man or woman” simply can’t do it, unless they are planning on changing careers anyway. It’s hard enough to get off for jury or national guard duty without reprocussions, and those absences are protected by law. Most employers wouldn’t let an employee take leave for several months every other year without expecting some corresponding benefit in return.

  13. 16

    jon spews:

    @12 What does everyone think about the job King County is doing?

    ——-

    For that matter, we have 535 lawmakers at the Fed level who regularly receive dismal approval ratings. Paying them even more isn’t going to change that performance!

  14. 17

    Richard Pope spews:

    Troll @ 12

    Over 850 employees in King County government make over $175,000 per year.

    Where do you get that statistic from? Are those folks the doctors at Harborview?

  15. 18

    mr. smitty spews:

    Here’s an idea: Double the pay, and double the time the legislature is in session.

    In off years like 2009, there’d be a Jan-Apr session, then a recess when legislators are hopefully boning up on the issues and meeting with constituents, then another session from Labor Day through Thanksgiving.

    Then in election years (2010), there’d be a Jan-Mar session, then post-recess a Memorial Day through Independence Day session. Sure the fundraising freeze will hurt in an election year, but incumbents have enough advantages already.

  16. 19

    Richard Pope spews:

    SJ @ 13

    Suppose MS announced that it was cutting its maximum pay to $50,000. Would you buy, sell or hold that stock?

    I wouldn’t do any of these things, since I don’t own any of their stock, or any other company’s for that matter.

    And Microsoft doesn’t make me pay property taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes or any other taxes for that matter. Since Microsoft isn’t receiving billions of dollars of government bailouts (another fiasco perpetrated by the “capable class” that you and Goldy are so fond of), I couldn’t give a rat’s ass how much or how little they pay their employees.

  17. 20

    SJ spews:

    @19 Richard

    Ok .. you don’t own any stock.

    As for the rest, to follow yuor logic we should lower the pay of teachers, fire fighters, profs, soldiers, and judges until no one will take the jobs! Brilliant reasoning.

    Ayn Rand lives and is well, all praise Marduk!

  18. 21

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    @17,

    Do the docs at Harborview really make over $175,000 per year, each? That seems like a lot of money to me.

  19. 22

    spews:

    Do the docs at Harborview really make over $175,000 per year, each? That seems like a lot of money to me.

    Some do, some don’t. A highly accredited subspecialist making $175K is undercompensated, at least in our system.

    But the Harborview situation is complicated, because the paychecks of HMC personnel come from the University of Washington. Their ID cards are also from the U. Harborview is owned by the county, but it’s run by the U. So I don’t think HMC docs are officially King County employees.

    That said, I’m sure the source of Troll’s “statistics” is the same as always … his ass.

  20. 23

    uptown spews:

    I agree with Goldy, time for a full time Legislature. Start with the Senate (see @2 SJ).

    How many small business owners or farmers can really take that much time away from work? Last time I looked, the legislative session coincides with spring planting and the elections with harvest.

  21. 24

    SJ spews:

    @17

    I am sure many do. 15k is qactu8ally LOW for many highly s0ught after specialties … Neurosurgeons and orthopods mae 1mil and above in the real world.

    You need to remember that the hurdles to get some of these jobs rival pro sports. Nuerosurg is a seven year residency post med school and debts of 200-400k are not unusual. Toper neurosurgeons can may well over a million a year.

    In some cases the skill are extremly rare ..eg in my field top anatomic pathologists .. the ones who read slides for others are very, very rare. To work at the U, such folks trade pay for the freedom to have some time to teach and do research.

  22. 26

    jon spews:

    @22

    I think someone would be VERY hard pressed to find a handful let alone 850 individuals on this list who make 175K or more:

    [http://lbloom.net/xking07.html]

    It’s a little dated, but not that. Incidentally, here’s the UW’s list for 2007:

    [http://lbloom.net/uw07.html]

  23. 27

    SJ spews:

    @24 sorry for the typos.

    I am sure many do. 175k is LOW for many highly s0ught after specialties … Neurosurgeons and orthopods make 1mil and above in the real world.

    You need to remember that the hurdles to get some of these jobs rival pro sports. Neurosurg is a seven year residency post med school and debts of 200-400k are not unusual. Top neurosurgeons can make well over a million a year.

    In some cases the skills are extremly rare ..eg in my field top anatomic pathologists .. the ones who read slides for others are very, very rare. In some areas there is literally one or maybe two experts in the USA.

    To work at the U, such folks trade pay for the freedom to have some time to teach and do research. The highest paid ones have clinical skills that attract consults not only form the NW but form the world.

    I am not trying to argue for high salaries .. I think our salary gap in the US is absurd, but given the mess we are in …

  24. 28

    Richard Pope spews:

    N Seattle @ 22

    I know the docs at Harborview are on the UW payroll. I am just curious where Troll got his statistics from.

  25. 29

    Richard Pope spews:

    SJ @ 20

    As for the rest, to follow yuor logic we should lower the pay of teachers, fire fighters, profs, soldiers, and judges until no one will take the jobs! Brilliant reasoning.

    If we lower the salaries of teachers, firefighters and soldiers — most of which are not all that high to begin with, there would be a lot fewer people interested in these jobs.

    If we lower the salaries of corporate executives, athletes, politicians, professors and judges — all of which are pretty high already, there will still be plenty of people applying for these jobs.

    This is the type of exploitation we get from the “capable class” arguments. We have an upper class elite that is demanding stratospheric salaries — a far higher salary gap than exists in other countries or as compared with past history in our country — simply because they think they are so much better than the lumpenproletariat.

  26. 30

    SJ spews:

    Richard,

    You are living under a rock someplace. I hope it keeps the rain off

    First of all, you lump a lot of professions together. American docs, esp. in academic centers are not paid better than we are in other countries, esp when you consider the huge cost of a medical education here and the lousy US benefits for retirement, education and healthcare. My peers in Europe and CA live as well or better than we do. Even peers in China are beginning ot be competitive enough that some colleagues are moving back.

    Second, you vastly underestimate the scarcity of folks able to be neurosurgeons or higyhly skilled pathologists.These are jobs as competitive as big league sports jobs. Lowering the salaries would NOT mean finding folks to fill those jobs unless you also doreforme3d our idiotic benefits system and made education free.

    On the same scale, we pay profs in the humanities pay BELOW what we pay their peers in the military. A COLONEL IN THE ARMY DOES NOT HAVE EIGHT OR NINE YEARS OF LOANS FOR GRAD SCHOOL TO PAY OFF!

    A more rational POV would ask howsi6t we pay corporate attorneys and MBA ,marketing types more than we pay full profs of Arabic? Is this why so few people go far the latter jobs?

    A more rational POV might ask about the mega salaries we pay state employees to coach semi pro varsity sports or heads of charities to schmooze money .. eg Pres Emmert?

    The military? Hell I was a Commander in the USN. If I had stayed in my 20, I would now be getting 1/2 current pay. free med care, plus social security and a good salary. That ain’t hay either.

    Our compensation system is fucking broken. But, blaming it on some poor schnub making 175ki as a full prof of Neurology is .. well, below your pay grade!

  27. 31

    spews:

    I think as long as the session remains limited in duration, it makes sense to recognize the full-time nature of the job. To be effective a legislator should be spending the interim on studies, meeting with constituents, and generally thinking about what makes for good policy. The session would be limited to actual lawmaking and budgeting.

    States that have year-round legislatures tend to over-legislate. I also think there’s something to be said of deadlines focusing the mind. Even with as short of a legislative season as we have, there’s a lot of slack time towards the beginning with frantic finishes at the end.

    Finally, I’d just say you get what you pay for. While we do have some dedicated public servants that aren’t in it for a pay-check and probably don’t need the extra motivation, think about all the really good people we are skipping past who can’t afford to leave their much better paying careers to become a legislator.

  28. 32

    Liam Sauer-Wooden spews:

    Doesn’t matter what we pay them – the same tired rich NeoCons will be voted back into office again and again so that progress in Washington is slowed as much as possible.

  29. 33

    Richard Pope spews:

    SJ @ 29

    Okay, a lot of professor salaries really suck. Not in medical school or engineering, of course, but those folks in humanities who get less than what even school teachers make.

    On the flip side, most humanities professors don’t have massive student loans to pay off. Maybe undergraduate of course, but if they were any good as graduate students, they almost certainly had assistantships and fellowships which paid practically all the tuition and fees and allowed enough money for very basic living expenses.

    I do think the salaries of university administration are vastly overinflated. Why should university presidents get a million bucks a year? I am sure lots of PhD professors would apply for the job at a mere $150k to $200k per year — which would still be a lot.

    Even non-academic administrators get vastly overpaid. I read a story about a housing administration at the UW — a position which probably doesn’t even require a BA, much less a graduate degree. The fellow is pulling down $140k a year! And he recently got reassigned to a make-work position at the same salary (instead of fired) after the UW administration basically concluded that he was guilty of sexually harassing a subordinate.

    I would support less expensive educations. The cost of even undergraduate tuition at public institutions like the UW has vastly outpaced inflation over the last 30 years. Graduate tuition, even at public universities, for specialized schools, such as medicine and law, has soared through the stratosphere.

    And for private institutions — forget it! 30 years ago, most private universities charged about $4k to $5k per year for tuition. Nowadays, you are looking at $30k per year just for undergraduate tuition at places like Harvard, and over $40k per year when you add in room, board, books, etc.

    All this serves to widen the gap between the rich and the poor in America. There are tens of millions of families in America who live on less (often far less) than the $40k plus per year that it costs for a rich kid to attend Harvard for a year.

    So much for the justice of the “capable class” argument.

  30. 34

    SJ spews:

    Okay, a lot of professor salaries really suck. Not in medical school or engineering, of course, but those folks in humanities who get less than what even school teachers make.

    ASll is relative. I run a training program for scientists .. predoc; PhD and MD postdocs.

    Under our current system a typical MD wanting to become an academic has about 2 years of fellowship at resident wages thenshe MUST get a grant and will b deopendent on grants for at least ten years more.

    So what happens ? If she is a cardiologist she may be carrying 200k in debt. If she goes into practice she will make abut 300k to start. If she stays in academica she will be lucky to get 100k IF she brings in herownslary on grants.

    Increasingly few residents have the personal wealth to take this sort of risk.

    So is this asst professor overpaid?

    On the flip side, most humanities professors don’t have massive student loans to pay off. Maybe undergraduate of course, but if they were any good as graduate students, they almost certainly had assistantships and fellowships which paid practically all the tuition and fees and allowed enough money for very basic living expenses.

    Sorry bubbelah you is living WAY in the past. Getting those fellowships is very hard, and few do, Getting TA is easier but when is the effin TA supposed to opursue his own work? Moreover, TAs are paid very poorly and often do nto get sijple bennies like health care.

    I do think the salaries of university administration are vastly overinflated. Why should university presidents get a million bucks a year? I am sure lots of PhD professors would apply for the job at a mere $150k to $200k per year — which would still be a lot.

    I tend to agree wiht you. The new Dean at some emd school is getting 4.5 mil! While the top salaries are bad, I think the proliferation of admin folks is a bigger problem.

    Even non-academic administrators get vastly overpaid. I read a story about a housing administration at the UW — a position which probably doesn’t even require a BA, much less a graduate degree. The fellow is pulling down $140k a year! And he recently got reassigned to a make-work position at the same salary (instead of fired) after the UW administration basically concluded that he was guilty of sexually harassing a subordinate.

    This sounds a bit like an uraban legend, esp the latter part. The UW admin is awfully quick to fire folks for sex harassment as it is under a federal agreement because of past misdeeds.

    I would support less expensive educations. The cost of even undergraduate tuition at public institutions like the UW has vastly outpaced inflation over the last 30 years. Graduate tuition, even at public universities, for specialized schools, such as medicine and law, has soared through the stratosphere.

    This is tricky. One of the consequences of the nineties is that all educated labor .. from plumbers to surgeons, has become very expensive on a per hour basis. The more time int4ensive an activity the harder it is to finance it. Tyhis is truw for lawyers, pediatricians, cops, teacherfs and surgeons. Why do we outsource tech support these days? .. tell you waht, lets leave ed cost to another thread.

    And for private institutions — forget it! 30 years ago, most private universities charged about $4k to $5k per year for tuition. Nowadays, you are looking at $30k per year just for undergraduate tuition at places like Harvard, and over $40k per year when you add in room, board, books, etc.

    Actually Harvard has very generous scholarship funds and few pay the full boat.

    Mty personal belief is that we need to rartionalizwe who is educated where. At the top schools we do a pretty good job of limiting access to very good students. The UW, OTOH, is wasted on a large part of its student body. Butg .. again, lets make another thread. I can set one up at SJ if you want..

    All this serves to widen the gap between the rich and the poor in America. There are tens of millions of families in America who live on less (often far less) than the $40k plus per year that it costs for a rich kid to attend Harvard for a year.

    Sorry, you are still wrong about Harvard. They want the best and brightest and, unlike UW, will recruit star students with money .. just like W does for Atheletes.

    So much for the justice of the “capable class” argument.

    I think you are confusing several different issues here:

    1. classism: British style. We certainly have that and it is a growing problem.

    2. wealth classism .. kids of the rich get far better opportunities here even than in Victorian England.

    3. Over pay to those who control money. GAK!

    4. Overpay to those who have money.

    I am not at all convinced that there is much of a problem with overpaying the capable class as there is a problem with overpaying talented people to do unproductive things. Have you ever looked at the MBA curriculum?

  31. 35

    aff spews:

    In the sweep of the State Budget, doubling legislator pay wouldn’t be an especially big deal.

    You should also note the lack of lawyers in our legislature. My understanding is we have the one of the lowest number of lawyer-legislators of any states. I think there are only two or three active lawyers in the House (Jamie Pedersen, whoever chairs the judiciary committee was active but isn’t now–I think-and one R). This is because we have fairly rigorous public disclosure laws. Any partner in a law firm that serves in the legislature has to disclose the source of all payments to his/her law firm. If you’re at a big firm with 30,000 clients, this isn’t feasible. You may need to get 30,000 releases signed. If you’re at a small firm where your colleagues have clients with privacy concerns, or are involved in sensitive negotiations, it might not be feasible either.

    Anyway, when only 2 or 3 members of the entire caucus have gone to law school, there are very few legally-trained sets of eyes making the final evaluation of changes to the RCW. Staff can’t and shouldn’t be the only folks in the room with legal training when changing laws. So along with bumping pay up, we may also want to think about ways to make it easier for lawyers to serve. As ridiculous as it is to ask for sympathy for lawyers, here it is probably in our best interest.

  32. 36

    SJ spews:

    @34

    I also do not think many lawyers are willing to owrk for much less than $300/hr.

    Is there vidence that our laws have technical legal flaws? Our initiatives sure do suck!

  33. 37

    spews:

    As a legislator I’ve never complained about our compensation. I knew I was taking a huge cut from running a statewide trade association. Yet, unlike our constituents who are getting laid off, or getting their own compensation cut thanks to legislative decisions, we signed on for what we get. I do find it curious that anyone would criticise Kevin Van De Wege, one of the most principled legislators, for having benefitted from the support of . . . drumroll . . . firefighters when Kevin is a . . . drumroll . . . firefighter. What’s the big deal? Better that working-class heroes, who know Kevin’s integrity from personal experience, rally around him than a bunch of megacorporations or other malefactors.

  34. 38

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Deb Eddy and Brendan Williams–

    I was not complaining about Kevin Van De Wege as a Legislator (although he voted YES on the unsustainable Budgets…that ain’t nothin’ to brag about).

    The issue was about HOW Legislators are elected. Kevin had a ton of help from OUT OF HIS DISTRICT. I understand that’s the way it is under current laws….but it says something about why our system is so screwed up.
    That was my point.
    I think Kevin is still learning…but in the end, is and will always be a Union puppet.

  35. 39

    kirk91 spews:

    I thought MS _was_ reducing all their salaries to 50k via the H1B program.

    You won’t get a more diverse/better set of State Legislators until the campaigns are financed via public funding. Until then you are limited to folks who can raise money (or already have money) first and second and with their desire to serve a distant third or lower.

  36. 40

    less is more spews:

    Goldy, that is a carefully written and as well presented as possible but you need to stop and think about what people need to know to be in the legislature. Having three people write up a solution and then flip coins to decide which solution will be followed will work just as well as Washington’s legislature.

    Copy Nebraska, at least they aren’t stupid enough to pay two separate sets of stooges to screw things up. Then you can double your legislatures pay without a lot of whining and crying.