(KCPW News) While delivering painful budget cuts to many state agencies, lawmakers decided to deal themselves a blow as well. Senator Curt Bramble admits the $10 cut to lawmakers' daily wage is a symbolic move.
"We're in some troubled financial waters. There are some uncertain financial times ahead. We don't know what's happening in Washington, for example, today. And this is a way to communicate to the citizens of Utah that we understand," Bramble says. "And to the extent that it is merely symbolic and sending a message, we understand and we're going to take part of it ourselves."
Lawmakers earn $120 dollars a day when they attend official meetings. It was slated to go up $10 in January. That has now been reversed and lawmakers will forgo the pay raise to show those impacted by the economic downturn they know how it feels.
However, some lawmakers from rural communities are already intimately aware of the economic downturn. Senator Darin Peterson, a rancher from Nephi, voted against the bill, saying lawmakers run the risk of making the People's House too exclusive.
"If we keep going down this road. We're either going to have legislators who are comped by the government and are employees themselves or people who are independently wealthy. Unfortunately, when you take 45 days off to come up here and leave your families and your job behind, it is public service in its grandest, but it is nice to just eat, and buy a motel at night," Peterson says.
While four Senators voted against the bill, it passed through the Senate with enough votes to satisfy the two-thirds majority provision required for it to take immediate effect. The bill garnered unanimous support in the House. The governor immediately signed it in to law.