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Timing is everything when talking about pay raises

With respect to District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, there can be a goodtime for legislators – and any other elected officials who have thepower – to raise their own pay. It’s just not when currentofficials want it to be.

In discussing his support of a proposal to raise the salaries ofmany state, area and local officials, as well as lawmakers, theBogue Chitto Democrat said timing is never good to enact a payraise.

“A lot of folks say that now is not the time to do it, with thebudget in this position or that position,” Moak said. “Politically,there is never a good time for pay raise legislation.”

District 91 Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, also supported themeasure that passed the House on a 61-60 vote, while fellowfreshman lawmaker District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven,opposed the effort. The measure, if approved, would raiselawmakers’ base pay from $10,000 a year to $15,000 and theirout-of-session pay would rise from $1,500 a month to $2,500 amonth, effective July 1.

Evans was among those who cited raises for other officials asjustification for his support. Currie said her vote was a “hardchoice,” but expressed concerns about the state’s budgetpicture.

Although our area lawmakers didn’t mention it, whenever thetopic of pay raises comes up, some supporter will say they areneeded to attract higher quality candidates.

When a pay hike proposal is designed to immediately benefitcurrent office holders, this argument is the most bogus of all whentalking about raises. The only thing a pay raise in this mannerdoes is pad the incumbents’ pockets.

And that brings us back to the issue of timing.

Having raises – however big they are – take effect at the startof the next term in office is not only a good time for payincreases but really is the best time for them.

When raises are enacted in this manner, those “higher qualitycandidates” that current office holders seem so concerned about mayactually be enticed to run. Also, the current office holders willhave been given an incentive to continue to do a good job – or doit better – since voters will be deciding whether to give them araise by returning them to office.

The pay raise bill is now in the Senate. Hopefully, senatorswill take the time to change the pay raise proposal to the way itneeds to be.