Pay Raises in the Land of One-Party Rule
by J. Alexandra Tuttle
Have you received your 15.7% pay increase this year? What about an increase in your housing allowance? How about an increase in your meal allowance? Or what about your annual travel allowance? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t. In fact, most of us taxpayers have not received a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in several years.
You’ve got to admire the Democrats in Annapolis. They tend to vote in lock-step when it comes to spending Marylanders’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and helping themselves along the way. During the 2014 legislative session, a whole slew of Democrats voted “no” on a Republican sponsored resolution, which would have prevented automatic pay raises for members of the Legislature.
The roll call of those Democrat delegates, who are not on the side of the constituents they represent include: Delegates Anne Kaiser, Eric Luedtke and Craig Zucker from District 14; Delegates Kathleen Dumais, David Fraser Hidalgo and Aruna Miller representing District 15, as well as Delegates C. William Frick, Benjamin Kramer and Susan Lee from District 16; Delegates Sam Arora, Bonnie Cullison and Benjamin Kramer from District 19, and Delegates Charles Barkley, Kirill Reznik and Shane Robinson from District 39.
By voting against the Republican sponsored resolution, the Democrats – unbelievably – told the taxpayers that $43,500 per annum for 3 months of work in Annapolis was not enough; that a $42 a day meal allowance was not enough and that a $101 per night lodging was not enough compensation for their “hard work.” The Compensation Commission also recommended an annual in-district travel allowance raise from $500 to $750 to reflect increases in the cost of fuel. I would like to point out the irony here, given the fact that Democrats who voted in a sales tax on gas only last year, now need an increase to pay for it! Hey, but at least they get one – I don’t think my boss included one for me this year.
As public servants – and part time legislators, you would think that the Democrats could have done the right thing and held off on any salary increases or perks at a time when state residents continue to lose jobs. It is a slap in the face of taxpayers, especially since these legislators are responsible for some 40-odd tax hikes (not to mention toll increases, etc.) that raised the state operating budget by $10 billion over the past 7 years.
With an unemployment rate of 6.4% in Maryland (actually the real unemployment rate is much higher), one wonders how the Democrats can justify giving themselves such an increase in pay and benefits?
Even with all this chicanery, however, one must still marvel at the sheer audacity of someone like Delegate David Fraser Hidalgo, who has been in the legislature less than a year and already wants a pay raise. What an opportunity he had to show real leadership during this period of economic hardship by voting “yes” on the Republican resolution. However, he was too busy to look after the interests of his constituents during the past session, where he was the primary sponsor of “baiting deer restrictions;” introduced legislation to do an industrial Hemp Study through the Agriculture Department, and increased the state debt by restoring the Seneca Store.
I’m sure these are all worthy endeavors, but the end result was just more spending that added to the mountain of debt. While David Fraser Hidalgo and the other Democrats appear to be very hard at work, their primary aptitudes are wasting time, spending your money and laughing all the way to the bank.