Currently Oregon state legislators, by their own admission, are not making enough money. They are paid $19,884 per year plus $109.00 per day they are in session. The average session runs 6 months, for approximately an additional $14,000 spread over two years. Legislators are also allowed $30,409 per session for office staff and supplies. So, for each two year (one session) time period our Oregon legislators are paid over $84,000. Throw in another session like just happened and the pay grows to $128,000 over two years. This simply is not enough to attract the talent we need.
Oregon Law Commission Chairman Lane Shetterly (former House member) said, “It makes sense, as lawmakers move toward meeting annually, that they would look to bring the pay to a level that would match the full-time workload and attract quality candidates.”
There you have it. Done deal. Now comes the hard part. How much to pay them if $128,000 is not enough? How do we decide?
Well, would anyone argue that our state legislators are not as important as a head football coach? I didn’t think so. University of Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti has a total compensation package set at 1.1 million per year. I know that sounds high, but it isn’t. Jim Tressel, coach of The Ohio State University Buckeyes, makes over 2 million dollars a year. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops makes over 3 million a year. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz will pull in over 4 million a year.
OK — so 1.1 million is chump change for a college football coach. This is the place to start.
Our legislators are shaping the future of our state — not calling plays from the sidelines or visiting some 17 year old kid trying to talk him into coming to play for them. What our legislators do effects each and every Oregonian, not just some scattered alumni groups and a stadium full of kids. What our legislators do is, essentially, priceless. And what do we do? We offer them 64K a year. It is not only an insult, but a virtual guarantee that we will no longer be able to attract the talent needed to guide the state with remuneration like that.
I propose, then, in all seriousness, $1,100,000 per legislator per two-year term. HALF what the football coach is getting! Half do you hear me?
If we fail in this, we will fail in many, many other ways to numerous to count. I say let’s do it.