The Commission on Compensation is charged by legislators and the governor with recommending salary increases for lawmakers and judges.
The group’s reports are often ignored by the former, who are concerned about how taxpayers will percieve politicians voting themselves pay raises (even though technically the increases would not go into effect until after the next election in 2010 when some lawmakers aren’t likely to seek office or to win re-election).
So the legislature has not voted itself a raise since 2001, much to the continued frustration of commission members who have studied the matter, reviewed how lawmakers in other states are paid, and truly believe our part-time legislators deserve to be paid more.
A Connecticut legislator’s starting salary stands at $28,000 a year with legislative leaders earning up to $38,689.
Last year, while the state was still experiencing a surplus, compensation commissioners revived the previous year’s failed proposal to increase leaders’ earnings by $30,000 and rank-and-file members’ salaries by $10,000.
Then-House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, shot down the idea even before the official report had been issued, noting it would only be used against his fellow Democrats as campaign fodder in the November elections.
With the state facing billion-dollar deficits in the current and coming fiscal years, compensation commissioners met today, threw up their hands and decided not to even bother suggesting lawmakers boost their salaries.
“It would have cost money,” Chairman Lew Rome said afterward. “It was appropriate last year. It’s inappropriate this year.”
The Commission on Compensation also avoided recommending raises for judges, instead suggesting the legislature vote to link future salary increases to those of the state’s executive managers – whenever that money becomes available.