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THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2007
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Polled readers oppose legislators' pay raise

By Steve Stewart
steve@decaturdaily.com 340-2444

The pending pay raise for members of the Alabama Legislature found few supporters among Daily readers who responded to an online poll.

"Do you support the pay raise of about 60 percent that Alabama legislators approved last week for themselves?" the poll asked.

It ran for two days, concluding Wednesday, at www.decaturdaily.com.

Of 160 voters, 149 (93.1 percent) answered no. Eleven answered yes.

The poll was unscientific. People could vote from anywhere.

On voice votes that didn't leave a record of who voted which way, legislators voted last week to raise their annual base compensation to $49,500 from $30,710, then get automatic raises when consumer prices go up.

Gov. Bob Riley said he would veto the raise, but legislators can override his veto with majorities in the House and Senate.

In an e-mail, reader George D. Upton of Decatur said he would support a raise for legislators under three conditions:

n Legislators would get one round trip to the Capitol each week, reimbursed at 20 cents a mile.

n The state would contract for legislators' motel rooms near the Capitol.

n Their annual salary would equal the state contribution for teachers' salaries.

"Join the crowd and smell the roses on how the rest of the people live," he wrote. "I don't know if this will give the legislative members a raise or a cut in pay; but I do know that I believe it will be a fair compensation and no member is making out like a bandit just because they live close or far away from the Capitol."

Mason Miller of Trinity said the pay raise is "another example of politicians with no moral compass. ... I hold all legislators responsible, whether they voted for it or not, because of the manner in which it was passed. I find it cowardly voting in secret with no public record."

R.J. White of Hartselle said the public will know which legislators support the raise because they will have to go on record to override Riley's veto.

"I think every one of them that voted for this pay raise should be defeated," he said. "There is no excuse for such action when the schools and other agencies are in need of money."

He complained about costly special sessions, legislative ethics and lobbyists' power.

"We must get better people to run for the Alabama Legislature, and we must ascertain that these new people will vote for reasonable term limits," White wrote. "... Once we get good people in the Legislature, then we can give them a pay raise based on what good they are doing for our state."

Jerry West of Decatur said, "These are the same people who are against tax reform for the low- and middle-income folks of Alabama."

In the opinion of Michael T. Smith of Moulton, "All of the legislators knew the pay for their offices before they were elected to office. Besides, I don't know anyone or ever worked with anyone who received a 60 percent raise at one time. This raise is about greed, plain and simple!"

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