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Analysis: Legislative pay less under 2012 amendment

Alabama lawmakers are earning $59,674 this year, $18,100 more than they were in 2014 when a constitutional amendment changing their salaries and how they receive raises went into effect. They’d be earning $69,757 if Republicans had never pushed for that change, according to an analysis by the Legislative Services Agency.

The 2012 voter-approved amendment that tied legislative pay to median household income was initially a pay cut for many lawmakers and put their salaries at $41,574. Since then, they’ve received raises each year except two as household income has risen. The previous pay structure allowed them a higher salary and to receive annual raises based on the Consumer Price Index.

“Since 2014 the average annual CPI has ranged from 0.1% to 8%, whereas increases and decreases in legislative compensation has ranged from a decrease of .08% to (an increase of) 10.69%, the highest increase set to be received, beginning Jan. 1, 2024,” the LSA report said. “While the 2024 pay increase may seem higher than that of CPI adjustment for 2024 (4.1%), our analysis shows that had Amendment 871 not passed, legislative compensation would be higher than the current legislative compensation.”

Republicans who advocated for the constitutional amendment more than a decade ago said it would save the state money and take politics out of politicians’ pay. In 2007, the then-Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a 61% pay raise, overriding the veto of then-Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican. Backlash over that raise, which put legislative salaries at $49,500, helped the GOP take over the Legislature in 2010.

Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, asked for the analysis at the request of former Sen. Bryan Taylor, who sponsored the pay change legislation in 2012. Taylor is now running for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice.

“Our legislative pay cut amendment slashed lawmakers’ pay and saved the taxpayers about $10.8 million over the last 10 years,” Taylor told IAP. “As the next Chief Justice, I will ensure we allocate every taxpayer dollar wisely, based on the needs of our court system and not based on politics.”

Roberts wasn’t a lawmaker when the constitutional amendment was proposed, but said this week he’s glad it’s working as intended.

“To me, it folds right in law with our principles of fiscal conservatism,” he said. “This is an example of that, which was put in place by people before I arrived. I’m grateful for their actions.”


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