At the Tuesday meeting of the Legislative Compensation Board, members voted to keep legislative salaries the same but said they'll be looking at whether to punish lawmakers by cutting pay.
The board was originally set up to assess whether lawmakers are in need of pay raises due to inflation making suggestions by several members, including the board’s chairman to cut pay an unexpected topic of discussion. The basis for the floated idea was born out of the state's budget crisis and the lack of action at the Capitol.
The current salary at the Capitol for an average legislator is $38,400. Including benefits and per diem pay that average pay hits roughly $62,000. Members in leadership rolls receive addition money as well. While the design of the board is to give lawmakers a raise, the last time pay was adjusted was 1997.
Some legislators say they'd welcome the idea but others say they worry about what lowering pay would do to the quality of candidates running in future races as well as the possibility of it slowing work at the Capitol even further.
These talks come amid a special session now on its 23rd day. Of those more than three weeks lawmakers officially worked just two days to fill a $215-million budget hole of their own making meaning they've allegedly been working on a deal out of the public eye and without accountability for nearly the entire length of the session. Lawmakers recessed to save taxpayers the $30,000 each day they would have been at the Capitol.
In the meantime, the services of nearly a million Oklahomans hang in the balance, according to Governor Mary Fallin.