Taking a cue from state employees, the Legislative Compensation Board has voted not to increase legislator’s salaries. Members of the board voted unanimously October 20th to keep pay and benefits at the same level for the next three years.
The Oklahoma Public Employees Association sent letters to House and Senate leadership praising the decision, and urging lawmakers to consider a long-term compensation plan for state employees.
“Our elected officials have the benefit of a board to review and adjust their salaries,” said OPEA Deputy Director Scott Barger. “State employees do not have that luxury. We have not seen a pay increase in nearly four years, and we think it’s time our lawmakers put in place a long-term compensation plan. Not only would that bring state employee’s salaries to market, it would also help reduce turnover,” Barger said.
According to figures compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oklahoma’s lawmakers are the highest-paid legislators in the Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas region.
Oklahoma’s state employees, meanwhile, are paid 16 percent below market. “That’s appalling,” Barger said. “The folks who build our roads, protect us from dangerous felons and safeguard our children often get by on much less than our lowest-paid legislators. It’s time that changes, and OPEA is determined to affect that change.”