Lawmakers are set to discuss asking voters for a raise Wochit
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South Dakota lawmakers want a raise.
After a 20-year pay freeze, legislators will consider asking voters for more in 2018.
The South Dakota Executive Board on Monday is set to consider a resolution that would tie lawmakers’ paychecks to the state’s median household income. And that would likely mean a 70 percent raise for the state’s 105 lawmakers.
Currently, South Dakota legislators receive $6,000 a year in addition to per diem payments and some reimbursement for mileage.
The resolution’s supporters want to set legislator salaries at one-fifth of the most recent median household income. According to the 2015 U.S. Census, South Dakota’s median household income was $50,957 for that year, which would put lawmakers’ salaries around $10,191 annually.
The raise is warranted, supporters said, as lawmakers haven’t seen their salaries grow since 1998, though per diem has inched up over the last two decades. Their buying power is at the lowest rate since the current payment mechanism was adopted in 1946, according to the Legislative Research Council, and some are struggling to make ends meet under the current salary.
“We need to talk about doing something,” said House Speaker Mark Mickelson. “The compensation really limits who is able to serve, it’s either people who are retired or self-employed.”
The Sioux Falls Republican said that while the proposal doesn’t affect him, as he is self-employed, tying compensation to median income could help convince a more diverse pool of candidates to run for legislative seats. He said he wasn’t sure the measure would gain traction among his peers.