Legislature discusses own salaries and per diem
Legislators are drafting a bill that would increase their salary. The last time state lawmakers' salaries were changed was in 2005.
Currently, each member of the legislature receives $155 per day. The bill proposes to change that to $230 per day; however, the changes would not go into effect until Jan. 12, 2027. Rep. Eric Barlow (R-Gillette) said there is a reason for that far off date.
“If this were adopted, no one who’s elected to begin serving in 2023 will receive the benefit from this. Everyone would’ve stood for election again,” he said.
The draft bill also includes the creation of a commission that would evaluate salaries for state officials. It would be made up of seven members appointed by different parts of the government. The commission would be in charge of making compensation adjustments for a member of the legislature, justice of the supreme court, the governor, auditor, treasurer and other members of the state cabinet.
The management council members argued that the increase in salary and creation of the commission should be two separate bills. So, the bill was moved to be considered during the December meeting when that change could be made.
As inflation is increasing the costs of traveling, the management council also took into consideration a draft bill to increase members of the legislature’s reimbursement when traveling for meetings.
Right now, state legislatures' per diem rate is $109 per day. Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) said you cannot cover a hotel with that, let alone food.
“We've all been to the restaurants lately, and when you go to a restaurant and get dinner or if you get breakfast or whatever you get if it's one meal or two meals [it’s] increased substantially,” he said.
The draft bill would increase lawmakers daily compensation to $155 per day. The management council voted to add an amendment that would adjust the per diem according to location and make it go into effect - if it were to pass - on July 1, 2023.