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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.

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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.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley