Representative Neil Hansen
(KCPW News) When state lawmakers voted to cut their own pay 10 percent earlier this year, Democratic Representative Neil Hansen was the only representative on the House floor to vote “no.” Now, the Ogden legislator might sponsor a bill that would cut salaries for other elected officials, including the governor and his cabinet. Hansen says the governor’s staff should be subjected to the same salary cuts as state workers and legislators.
“The disparity between those in the upper pay scale versus the lower pay scale is becoming more inequitable,” Hansen says. “And if we as legislators are taking, you know, our licks to balance the budget, I think the governor’s cabinet and the governor and the treasurer and the auditor ought to take their licks and say, ‘OK, we’re all going to buckle our belts and hunker down here.”
Legislators’ salaries were cut by $13 earlier this year, making it $117 per day. But earlier this week, the Utah Legislative Compensation Commission recommended reversing that action to return legislative pay to $130 per day for the 2011 fiscal year. That increase will happen automatically unless lawmakers intervene.
The commission also recommended putting legislators on an annual salary, rather than a daily rate. Hansen wants to go one step further to give lawmakers an annual salary equal to what the average Utahn earns, about $40,000 a year. He insists being a legislator is a full time job.
“Just because we’re at the Capitol for 45 days out of the year, doesn’t mean that we sit on our duffs and do nothing for the rest of the year,” Hansen says. “You know, we are doing work for our constituents, regardless of whether we are at the Capitol or at home or at our offices. We are available to the public every day of the year.”
Hansen says he chose to leave his job with the Ogden City Water department to focus on his legislative work, taking a $25,000 annual salary loss.