Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

April 2, 2014

For shame

Legislators hide from roll call vote on pay raise

The Maryland House of Delegates took a gutless approach Tuesday when it refused to require a vote on a salary hike for delegates and senators. Instead of answering a roll call vote on how each delegate stands on the pay raise, the lawmakers opted to merely let the increase take effect without their involvement.

The upshot is — unless something unforseen occurs before the legislative session ends Monday — a nearly 16 percent pay increase will take effect for senators and delegates who are elected later this year. This will be the first pay hike for legislators in eight years. Their salaries will go up $1,707 every year for four years, raising their total annual salary from $43,500 to $50,330.

The increase in pay  is recommended by an independent commission. The way the salary increase mechanism is set up, raises go through automatically — but lawmakers have the option of actually voting for or against the raise.

House Republicans tried to force the issue Tuesday by asking for a roll call vote. But the overwhelming Democrat majority rejected a vote, opting instead for the backdoor approach of an automatic raise.

The Republican legislators from our area, Delegates Wendell Beitzel and LeRoy Myers Jr., both voted to have the roll call tally. Del. Kevin Kelly, a Democrat, also voted for a roll call. Kelly was one of only six Democrats in the House to join the Republican move to force a vote.

Sen. George Edwards has told the Times-News he will support the GOP’s effort to force a roll call vote in the Senate.

In our view, $50,330 plus pension benefits and other perks, is too much money for a part-time legislator. But the merits of the pay raise deserve a discussion by the full House and Senate.

Del. Herbert McMillan, R-Anne Arundel County, has it right, saying to his colleagues: “This just underscores the perception that many people have that legislators simply want to feather their nest. They’re not even willing to bring their pay wages up to a vote in the light of day. And that’s wrong.”

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