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State lawmakers kill pay raise for themselves

by Minden Press-Herald

BATON ROUGE—The House Appropriations Committee voted 16-5 Monday to kill a bill that would have increased the salary for legislators. 

House Bill 149 had proposed increasing their pay to $39,000 a year from $16,800. The committee rejected the bill after much discussion about service, privilege and ability. 

Many legislators voiced their concern for supporting a raise in their own salaries when many residents of Louisiana deserve pay raises even more. Some members also worried about how it would look to vote to increase lawmaker pay after the same committee removed direct state funding for up to $3,000 in pay raises for K-12 teachers from the governor’s proposed budget.

After several members of the committee voiced their disapproval, Marino said that many lawmakers were refusing to pass the bill because they are running for reelection and worry that it will harm them. 

Rep. Joseph Marino, a Gretna Independent, is not running for another term, and he contended that increasing the lawmaker pay would enable more people to run for office.

“It is simply a question of assuring that citizens from all walks of life are able to serve, not just rich and retired, but the younger professional or businessman or woman, plant worker, less well-off citizen,” Marino said.

Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, countered that. 

“I am neither rich, nor am I retired, nor did I grow up privileged,” Villio said. “What I consider this to be is service. I don’t consider it a job.” 

Reps. Daryl Deshotel, R- Marksville; Mary DuBuisson, R- Slidell; Aimee Freeman, D- New Orleans; John Illg Jr., R- River Ridge, and Rodney Lyons, D- Marrero, voted for the pay raise. 

The House and Governmental Affairs Committee had voted 8-4 earlier to support Marino’s bill. 

Also on Monday, the Appropriations Committee also advanced a bill that would enable some teachers to earn hourly wages for extra duties. 

HB 205, authored by Rep. Marcus Bryant, D-New Iberia, would allow teachers to be paid for any duties outside of their job descriptions. Additionally, teachers would be paid an hourly rate based on their salary for after-school activities except for coaching positions. 

The bill also changes the date, to June 30, when teacher salary schedules would become available for the following school year. 

Coaches are not included in this change because they are already paid outside of their normal duties. An amendment also removed teachers at special schools from the supplement pay plan.

Marcus Thomas, the director of government relations for the Louisiana Association of Educators, said that 43 districts already provide supplemental pay for teachers participating in extra duties. He said this bill would provide fairness and consistency. 

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