Arizona Voters to Decide on Giving Legislators a Pay Raise

Arizona voters will decide in November on giving state lawmakers a raise.

Arizona's Commission on Salaries for Elective State Officers voted to propose a legislative pay of $35,000, an $11,000 increase over the current pay of $24,000. Thanks to the Arizona Constitution, voters have the final say on this proposal.

See also:
-Arizona Legislature Adjourns, and Your Life Probably Isn't Changing

Sure, a $24,000-a-year salary seems pretty low. But that's not what the 90 legislators are paid.

On top of the annual pay, they get per diem money on working days: Lawmakers who live in Maricopa County get $35 per working day, while those who live outside of Maricopa County get $60 per working day of the legislative session.

This year, the Legislature was in regular session for 70 working days, plus another three days for a special session, meaning the total pay for some legislators this year is more than $28,000.

And that's just for 73 days of work. Sure, lawmakers could be working with constituents or going to job-related meetings while the Legislature's not in session, but such things aren't constitutionally required.

Considering there are 251 work days in a year, it's not exactly $24,000-plus for a year of work. If you got paid $28,380 for 73 days of work (as legislators outside of Maricopa County get this year), that's an equivalent of $97,580 for working 251 days a year, like most people do.

If you bump up the pay to $35,000, that'd be the equivalent of more than $130,000 for a full year's work. Plus, for most lawmakers, this isn't their only job. Plus, lobbyists probably never take you out for a free lunch or dinner. Just things to keep in mind when you're debating whether lawmakers need $11,000 more per year.

The $35,000 figure was calculated roughly as accounting for inflation since voters last approved a pay raise for lawmakers, going to $24,000 in 1998.

Several other proposed pay raises have been shot down by voters since then.

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley