State lawmakers could get pay hikes

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A compensation study committee recommends pay increases for state elected officials that would increase the overall salary budget more than $3 million.

The proposal would increase the annual salaries for members of the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate from $17,342 to $29,908. It would jump the governor's salary from $139,000 to $175,000.

Some middle Georgians favor the proposal. Others scoff at it.

Clarence Williams of Warner Robins said Wednesday that teachers and law enforcement officials should get pay hikes before state elected officials.

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"I think that it would be more appropriate to reward those people for serving the public before we did raises for the representatives," Williams said. 

While Williams acknowledged that state lawmakers are away from their jobs and businesses during the 40-day legislative session, he also said there are regular citizens coping with hardships as well.

"You know, they do sacrifice in their businesses," Williams said. "But we do have people that do very dangerous jobs, and we have children that also work with children who are underpaid."

State Representative Robert Dickey of Musella said he wouldn't oppose a few thousand dollar pay hike for the lawmakers. But Dickey said a $12,000 jump is too much, especially since the state budget contains other items that deserve a higher priority.

"You know, all of us know what the pay is when we run," Dickey said. "I'd be very skeptical voting for that pay increase as recommended now, so no."

On the other hand, state Sen. David Lucas of Macon said he'd welcome the proposed pay hike.

"I would love it," Lucas said. "It's a lot of work now. It's not for a lazy person. I can tell you that now."

State Representative James Beverly of Macon also supports the proposed pay hike. Beverly said it's more than a part time job and extra compensation is justified.

Other midstate lawmakers commenting on the proposal include Representative Allen Peake of Macon, Representative Rick Williams of Milledgeville and Senator Burt Jones of Jackson.

Peake said the pay scale for Georgia lawmakers is much lower than other states. He also noted that it's more than a part time job and that he favors the increase.

Williams said he knew what the salary was when he ran for office and that he's satisfied with it. He said he will not support the raise.

Jones said there are other items on the agenda that need more attention than a pay raise. Jones said he'll most likely vote against it.

Other state offices and their current and proposed salaries are governor from $139,000 to $175,000; lieutenant governor from $91,000 to $135,000;  House Speaker from $99,000 to $135,000; attorney general from $139,000 to $165,611; secretary of state from $123,637 to $147,128; school superintendent from $123,270 to $146,691; agriculture commissioner from $121,557 to $144,653; insurance commissioner from $120,394 to $143,269; labor commissioner from $122,786 to $146,115 and public service commissioner from $118,781 to $138,974.