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Bill that could raise Georgia lawmakers’ salaries advances

March 15, 2022 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia voters would decide whether to significantly raise state lawmakers’ salaries under a bill that passed the state House on Tuesday.

HR 842 proposes a constitutional amendment that would set salaries for state senators and representatives at 60 percent of the median household income in Georgia — currently around $35,000. The amendment also would ban lawmakers from increasing their own salaries. It would go before voters in November.

“We’re not voting to give ourselves a pay adjustment,” said State Rep. Wes Cantrell, a Woodstock Republican.

The bill passed by a vote of 136 to 33 and now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

State lawmakers currently make just over $17,000 for what is supposed to be a part-time job, though all 56 state senators and 180 House members will receive a $5,000 raise in the state’s 2023 budget.

The National Conference of State Legislatures determined Georgia lawmakers typically work the equivalent of at least two-thirds of a full-time job, according to Cantrell. That’s in part why he chose 60 percent of the median household income as the standard for lawmakers’ pay, he said.

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If the state’s median income rises, lawmakers will see higher pay.

“As Georgians do better, the General Assembly would do better,” Cantrell said. “Additionally, we would never have to address this issue again.”

The state House, separately, passed a bill — HB 824 — that would increase lawmaker pensions. Cantrell said lawmakers are currently contributing significantly more money to their retirement accounts than they receive in benefits.