Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Guam's legislators are living too large

The Pacific Daily News is recommending that Guam's legislature become part-time. This will mean likely mean a cut in pay. Senator salaries are now at $55,000. They've been as high as $85,000, according to this editorial.

Guam, population 165,000, doesn't need a full-time legislature. And I bet the lawmakers know that. Why else vote to reduce your salary?

But $55,000 for Guam's lawmakers is still a full-time salary in the minds of many.

The National Conference of State Legislatures did an analysis of state legislatures in 2014. It's worth a look.

Only three states -- California, New York and Pennsylvania -- have full-time and well-paid legislatures. The average compensation for these full-time lawmakers is $81,000. (This may help explain why Guam's lawmakers cut their high salaries.)

Six states are part-time. The lawmakers in these states earn an average of $19,000 and spend about 54% of their time on the job. These states are Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. All have populations larger than Guam.

The other states fall somewhere between part-time and full-time legislatures. The lawmakers in these states spend about 70% of their time on the job and are paid $43,400, according to this study.

The $19,000 salary for 50% of your time, and $43,400 for 70%, are relatively low wages for people who can earn much more in the private sector. I'm sympathetic. Those wages do require a big sacrifice, but the PDN is right to recommend a move to a part-time job.

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