published: Tuesday, January 08, 2013
State legislators, overpaid or exploited -- you decide
Several readers - convinced that some state legislators have high salaries, generous pension plans and free medical care - have contacted the News-Sun asking about actual figures.
We've done some research.
According to sunshinereview.org, state senators and representatives are paid $29,687 a year and are considered part time.
The regular legislative session begins on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March every year.
A regular session typically lasts 60 consecutive days, although it can be extended by a 3/5s vote in each legislative house.
In addition to their salary, legislators receive a $333 per day per diem that is earned by the number of days in the session. A 60-session per diem payment equals $7,980. Travel money is reimbursed, but must be substantiated.
According to the Florida Retirement System, it has an elected officer class. The vesting schedule is six years, but a legislator must be 62 years old or have served 30 years in order to receive benefits.
For example, a four-year term Senator must win at least one re-election to be vested; a two-year term representative must win two re-elections to qualify. Florida has eight-year term limits.
In terms of the benefits, legislators get 3 percent service credit for each year of service.
The FRS states that a typical elected official serves eight years. Three percent times eight years equals 24. That is, a retirement benefit of 24 percent of the annual salary, or $7,200 every year. Legislators are eligible for the same 2 percent COLA as every other state employee in the system.
The health care insurance benefit to legislators is quite generous.
In the first place, part-time state employees do not qualify for the insurance benefit, even though part-time legislators do.
In the second place, state elected officials qualify for the insurance upon being sworn in.
In the third place, the insurance is very inexpensive -- $8.34 per month for individual insurance; $30 per month for a family. State employees pay roughly six or seven times that.
In February 2012, Senator Joe Negron introduced an amendment raising the legislator's contribution to be in-line with other state employees -- $50 a month for individual coverage, and $180 for a family.
According to several newspaper reports at the time, including the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post, there was immediate opposition to the amendment from both Democratic and Republican legislators.
Brought up in committee under the leadership of then Senate Budget Chief J.D. Alexander, the proposed bill failed in a voice vote and never reached the floor. Alexander did not have the committee members polled.
So, those are the basics. We leave it to the reader to decide if legislators are overpaid or not.
We urge anyone with time between 9 and 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 15, drop in on the Highlands County Delegation's public meeting. It's the best way to make sure your elected representative is working for your tax dollars, and it is wise keep up with whatever legislative plans are floating around.
(by: Nancy Argenzianio - 1/10/2013)
I was a legislator, the average pay when I was there was 26K yr. If done properly, it is NOT a part time job. Many have other jobs, businesses and do not do constituent services as they should. Many legislators are quite wealthy. Few are full time public servants and there is a need for them to be. The session per deim used to be 3,000 per session,and that appears to have gone up quite a bit. The salary is artificially low if you do this job they way it should be done, but if a legislator is a "special interest" legislator that makes money from the process (many do), or if they just follow the partyline (many do) then they are over paid. But the leaders have kept the salary artificially low so the average person who wants to participate in their government, cannot. True, many of them forget they are public servants, have large egos and do not really do the work they should be doing. More average people need to be in these positions.
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