Lawmakers to get raises next year, second in two years

Alabama’s 140 members of the Legislature will receive a 3.33 percent raise, which amounts to $1,492 per lawmaker, in 2018.

A 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment ties lawmakers’ salary to the median household income in the state. It’s now $46,257, according to a State Personnel Department memo about the raises, which cites 2016 U.S. Census data. That’s up from $44,765 in 2015.

The raise-allowing amendment went into effect after the 2014 election with lawmakers earning $42,849. They saw a slight decrease — 0.04 percent — in their pay from 2015 to 2016.

This year, their pay increased $1,935, or 4.5 percent.

Most lawmakers are still earning less than they did prior to the amendment. In 2007, the Democrat-led Legislature gave itself a 61 percent raise, putting base salaries at $49,500. They also received annual cost-of-living raises then.

Though they’re making less in salaries, the amendment allows lawmakers to be reimbursed more for travel to and from Montgomery.

If all lawmakers accept the raise — they can decline it — it will cost $208,880. Some lawmakers previously have refused raises, at least in part because state employees haven’t seen a cost-of-living increase since fall 2008.

Some state employees are eligible to receive performance-based merit raises, but there are caps on those. About 20 percent of state employees have reached the maximum allowed merit pay.

New minority leader

Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, is the new minority leader in the Alabama Senate. He replaces Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, who resigned from the Senate last week after being appointed president of Alabama State University.

Beasley is in his second term in the Senate representing a portion of south Alabama. He served three terms in the House.

There will be a special election to replace Ross.

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