By doing nothing, the Maryland General Assembly actually will do something.
That may seem like a nonsensical sentence. But if legislators do not take action over the next 19 days, members of the General Assembly who are elected this fall will receive a 16 percent pay raise.
Even though lawmakers have not had a raise in eight years, our view is that a 16 percent pay increase is too much. At the very least, lawmakers should take action on resolutions that require them to vote one way or another on the pay hike — rather than take a back door approach and let the raise go through without even coming to the House or Senate floor.
Two separate salary commissions created in the Maryland constitution require outside bodies to recommend changes in salaries, pensions and expenses for legislators, the governor and other top elected officials. If the legislature does not lower or reject them, they go into effect automatically — without any senator or delegate having to take a vote on their own pay or that of the governor.
Last Dec. 16, the General Assembly Compensation Commission recommended the 16 percent pay hike based on the cost of living increases for the past eight years and likely COLAs in the next four years.
We urge the senators and delegates to move the pay increase proposal to their respective floors so that the public can hear a debate on the issue — and also so that each legislator is required to take part in a roll call vote.
Doing nothing should not be an option. In fact, it is an affront to the constituents the General Assembly members represent.