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Bill to Increase Lawmaker Salaries By 88 Percent Advances

Adam Racusin

Bill to Increase Lawmaker Salaries By 88 Percent Advances

CREATED Feb. 9, 2012

Lincoln, NE - Nebraska lawmakers would get a $10,500 annual raise starting in 2013 - nearly half of the amount originally proposed - under a measure advanced by the Executive Board on Thursday.
The committee's 6-3 vote allows the full Legislature to debate whether to raise annual salaries for elected officials from $12,000 to $22,500.
Unicameral Speaker Mike Flood of Norfolk amended an original proposal by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh that would have raised lawmaker salaries by $20,000 annually, to $32,000.
Any change in lawmaker salaries would be subject to a public vote in November.
Lautenbaugh said earlier this week that everyday people can no longer afford to serve in the Legislature and has become a collection of retirees, the wealthy and those who own their own businesses.
He advocated for a $20,000 annual raise, saying that many young, competent people who could run for office aren't doing so because it's difficult to serve the public and hold a full-time job.
He said Thursday that he was happy with the $22,500 per year salary recommended by the Executive Board.
"This is about where I wanted it to be," Lautenbaugh said. "It will help."
Flood said the $22,500 salary is "in line" and represents an "acceptable amount.
"It maintains a citizen Legislature," he said. "You still would have to have a job."
The board also deferred until Monday discussion about a proposal that would allow voters to decide whether to extend term limits.
Several lawmakers would like to extend the current term limit of two consecutive, four-year terms to three consecutive, four-year terms.
Supporters say the eight-year limit doesn't allow lawmakers to get enough experience to deal with major issues.
Board members expressed concern about continuity and whether long-term knowledge about issues and procedures is lost when lawmakers are forced out because of term limits.