Speaker Batchelder thinks he deserves a pay raise.

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I’m so stunned right now, I’m just going to go ahead and put this as bluntly as I can. Speaker Batchelder believes lawmakers deserve a pay raise.

“I know a lot of people in my caucus who are frankly underpaid,” House Speaker William G. Batchelder said yesterday.

Under the budget passed by the Senate this week, pay for the 99 state representatives and half the state senators would be cut 5 percent starting in 2013. Cuts for the other half of the Senate would start in 2015. Base salary for a lawmaker is $60,584 a year. Most earn more through stipends paid to caucus and committee leaders.

Yep, you read that right, Speaker Batchelder said out loud, to a reporter, that he thinks members of his caucus are underpaid. This is easily in the top five dumbest things I have read during this entire budget process.

As the article points out, the base salary for lawmakers is $60,584 annually but when you start to add in the bonuses members get for committee and caucus leadership positions that number starts to grow really fast. For example, according to the Buckeye Institute’s on-line database of state salaries, Speaker Batchhelder made $86,165 last year. In the last General Assembly, then Speaker Budish made between $92,000 and $94,000 each year, so because that number has not gone down at all that is what Speaker Batchelder can expect to rake in this year and next.

Sometimes they just make this too easy. First, these lawmakers are technically full time positions but know that the second both chambers approve this budget the House of Representatives and Senate probably won’t meet again until sometime in September. Also, these guys work maybe on average three days a week. Yes, every once in a long time they have to be in Columbus for a long week but those times are few and far between. Lastly, the reason this isn’t a real full time job is because the vast majority of them have other jobs. I know this because I use to work in the House and saw first hand that this is how it worked. Quick show of hands, who would be willing to work part-time for nine months out of the year and get paid at least $60,0584 a year? Yea, I thought so.

These are the times that I wish we had a better press core, because the second that statement came out of the Speaker’s mouth the follow up questions should have been how can you, Mr. Speaker, explain to school districts and local governments that they are going to be forced to lay off folks because we don’t have anymore money to give them but we somehow enough money to give yourself a pay raise? I understand that being a legislator isn’t a walk in a park but in the big scheme of things no one can tell me a lawmaker adds more value to our society than say a teacher or a firefighter. Anyone who does make that claim is just, frankly, delusional.

Here is the worst part though, I believe Speaker Batchelder isn’t the only person in his caucus who believes this. I’m sure there are people in the Republican House caucus who would argue that they are underpaid. This is how out of touch these people are with the real world. Unemployment is still hovering around 8.5% in Ohio, the housing market is showing no real signs of turning around anytime soon, real wages have been stagnant for over a decade now, and somehow the Speaker thinks this would be a prudent time to give himself a pay raise? Really? This just has political disaster written all over it.

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  1. “Underpaid” legislators schedule 9 official working days in the next 6 months

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