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Dispatch from Dover: Lawmakers Nix Gov. Pay Hikes

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The General Assembly is moving to put the kibosh on pay raises for top state officials with a unanimous resolution sent to Gov. John Carney last week.

Once every four years, the Compensation Commission is required to review salaries of state lawmakers, the judiciary, and top members of the executive branch, comparing them to corresponding officials in nearby states and states of similar size.

The report, presented to the governor and the General Assembly on January 10th, contained pay hikes for the members of all three branches of government. By state law, the General Assembly must reject the report in its entirety within 30 days or the proposed raises automatically go into effect.

State Rep Danny Short, at podium, is circulating a proposal to delete the automatic pay raise mechanism for legislators, the governor and cabinet officials.

House Joint Resolution 2, which cleared the House and Senate without a dissenting vote, seeks to discard the commission’s report. As a joint resolution, the legislation must be signed by Gov. Carney, who is expected to do so before the 30-day deadline tolls early next month.

If the report is rejected, it will be the third time since the Compensation Commission was created in 1984 that its recommendations have been set aside. The General Assembly also struck the report down in 1993 and 2013. In the midst of the Great Recession, the commission’s 2009 recommendations included no pay hikes.

Some legislators are intent on ending the quadrennial drama.

One bill pending action (Senate Bill 14), sponsored by State Senate Minority Whip Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, seeks to eliminate the commission in its entirety.

State House Minority Leader Danny Short, R-Seaford, is currently circulating for sponsorship a different proposal. While retaining the commission, it would delete the automatic pay raise mechanism for legislators, the governor, and cabinet officials.   The commission’s report would be advisory in nature, requiring its suggestions to be handled in the same manner as wage recommendations for other state workers.


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