Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Texas-sized salaries

This week I am reporting in from the home of the Alamo -- San Antonio, Texas -- where I am attending an economics conference. I had a very nice dinner at the "Houston Street Bistro" with a starter of bean soup followed by a spinich/apple/avocado salad with grilled salmon. Granted it is a Tuesday night but the restaurant options seemed very limited in this part of town but I will give this restaurant a "3" (1 to 5 scale) rating primarily due to my waiter, Bernie, who is a role model for wait staff needing to improve their skills.

Over dinner I read today's copy of the Austin American-Statesman newspaper which had an article, "Panelist: Legislators merit a raise", which focused on the relatively low pay of Texas state legislators benchmarked against the other largest states in the USA. For your own education here are what state legislators in the nation's largest states are paid annually for their service:

California - $110,880
Michigan - 79,650
New York - 79,500
Pennsylvania - 69,647
Illinois - 57,619
Ohio - 56,260
New Jersey - 49,000
Florida - 29,916
Georgia - 16,524
Texas - 7,200

SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

So how much are state legislators paid in your state?

One of my favorite figures is that legislators in the US Virgin Islands (not one of the 10 largest states listed above) are paid $65,000 annually representing a total population of 109,000 people!!! Not a bad job while enjoying the beach life :)

While California is indeed one of the world's largest economies I really have to wonder if their state legislators really need to be compensated over 10 times more than Texas legislators especially since Texas has its own substantial economic clout. The article did not go into detail regarding what calculations the NCSL used to generate these salary figures so I have to wonder if "added salary items" such as the State of Minnesota's 1.) housing allowance for non-Twin Cities legislators and 2.) per diem expenses are included in these salary figures.

See you at the capitol,


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