Higher-paid lawmakers doing business as usual
The nice thing about a legislative pay raise is that it gets citizens involved in the making of state laws and the people who make them. The bad thing is that citizens usually lose interest once the furor dies.
Alabama legislators are counting on the latter phenomenon. They raised their pay at this early time not because it was the highest-priority issue facing them, but because the sooner they did it, the sooner it would be forgotten. The next legislative elections will be in 2010.
“The rule of thumb in politics is that two years are forever,” said University of Alabama political scientist David Lanoue.
The buzz on talk radio is that citizens won’t forget, and we hope they don’t. But — to be fair to legislators and to look after the state’s best interests — citizens should watch the way lawmakers behave on all important issues.
Lawmakers obviously don’t think they will. You can see this in recent behavior of the state Senate, where urgent needs such as relief for tornado-damaged schools get held up by political squabbling that has more to do with who’s on top than what’s important.