(The Center Square) – Georgia lawmakers were told to spend the holiday break considering whether they would push legislation to increase their annual salaries.
The Georgia Legislature ended its special session last week and will return to the state Capitol in January. Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, told his colleagues in the House they should think about increasing their part-time base pay of $17,342 while they are out.
“I rise to just give you something to think about over Thanksgiving and over Christmas,” Williams said on the House floor. “What I want to talk about is kind of like a favorite person that you really had deep feelings for, but you are not free to tell everybody about your feelings. That’s how it is for pay raise in this House.”
Both chambers of the General Assembly attempted to pass bills in the 2021 regular session that would have increased lawmakers’ pay. The Senate bill did not survive a full Senate vote, and the House bill did not make it to a floor vote.
Legislators’ base pay would have increased to $29,908 under the bills, and other state officials would receive more compensation after the 2022 election, costing taxpayers $3.2 million. It would have been the first pay raise for the General Assembly in more than two decades.
Republicans rejected the legislation because they believed a raise was not necessary, especially for a part-time job. Williams said lawmakers are fearful of backlash from constitutes. He reassured them local elected officials are paid more than legislators and still have long political careers.
“Most of you know I am right, but you’re terrified to see it in your district,” Williams said. “And it’s only because you’re more afraid of your district than your district is thinking about. If you think you’re in trouble, you ought to talk to some of your city council and mayors that make so much more money than you do, and they have been reelected year after year.”
Legislators’ compensation in neighboring states Florida and Alabama surpass Georgia. Florida state legislators receive base salaries of $29,697 a year, and Alabama state legislators receive $51,734 a year.