South Carolina lawmakers in the House of Representatives have seen fit to give themselves a raise, overriding a veto by the governor in the process.
Depending on who you read or where you get your news, you will see several viewpoints rationalizing the move, which in today’s financial and economic climate, may not have been the smartest of decisions. When operating on deficit budgets seems to be the only way government can run in the United States and the voters are growing more disillusioned seems like the perfect time to give yourself a raise of one thousand dollars per month.
The two arguments for the raise, prompted by those voting for it were as follows (paraphrased):
The first is, lawmakers can’t be expected to cover their districts at a cost to themselves. It is true the salary for state lawmakers was just over $10,000 before the House voted for the raise, but the argument still doesn’t hold water. First off, each member of the state Legislature knew what the job paid when they threw their hat in the ring and it didn’t seem to bother them then.
Secondly, politicians don’t mind throwing around the term Public Servant when campaigning and referring to themselves. Maybe they should go back and listen to some of their campaign trail rhetoric.
The second comment being bandied about by legislators voting to override the governor’s veto is, if we wait for the voters to decide, it will be another four years. There in that single comment is the only common sense to come from anything associated with this vote and it is being used to justify the raise.
It is an issue for the voters through referendum whether a raise should be granted. The taxpayers of South Carolina provide the funds for remuneration of officials and it should be the voters’ decision as to whether their elected representatives warrant a raise for the work they have provided, not ramrodded legislation and abstaining in order to assure the bill’s passage. Or maybe there was a consensus that four more years coupled with an abysmal performance would be too much of a risk to take.
Whether you agree the representatives in the state Legislature deserve a raise or not isn’t really the question. The question is, should they be allowed to take the decision out of the hands of the voters?
Somewhere along the way, all of the pie in the sky, balanced budget, fiscal responsibility pipe dreams that were sown by these very same officials were thrown over for a salary increase of more than 100%. Somewhere along the way, it seems a certain disdain for the voter was adopted and replaced with an attitude of “You don’t understand how government works.”
The fact is, the voters do know how government works and it isn’t pleasant, but for those who voted for this bill, next on your wish list should be a short memory at the polls when you are up for reelection.