LETTER: State reps not undercompensated
To The Telegram, Representative Gary Sherman's recent letter on sick pay for legislators deserves comment. In it, he asserts that legislators are public employees and hence are eligible for the same benefits. If we follow his flawed reasoning, we...
To The Telegram,
Representative Gary Sherman's recent letter on sick pay for legislators deserves comment. In it, he asserts that legislators are public employees and hence are eligible for the same benefits. If we follow his flawed reasoning, we can then conclude that the converse is also true, that public employees are eligible for the same benefits legislators receive.
I am a public employee. I don't get paid to travel to and from work, I don't get paid if I fail to show up, and I don't collect tax-free per diem payments in addition to my regular salary. If the legislature is unwilling to grant these benefits to all public employees, they have no business claiming sick leave for themselves.
Rep. Sherman's insistence that legislators are employees is an insulting ruse designed to obscure the real issue: that our elected officials are spending far too much time enriching themselves and too little effort in addressing the problems facing our state. Representatives who fail to attend all sessions of the assembly, but continue to collect a full paycheck without counting their absences against accrued sick leave, are guilty of theft.
Adding insult to injury, consider how few days the Assembly actually meets over the course of the year. The average compensation package for a legislator is: Salary $45,500 with per diem pay of $88 (who wouldn't like an additional $11/hr tax free?). The additional $75 per month "out of session pay," collected only when the assembly meets three days or less in a month, means that they actually get a bonus for not working. These benefits still don't take into account "travel expenses." For our northern representatives, these costs are $35,000-$50,000 (again tax free) per person, per year. $50,000 a year is nearly double the income of the average Douglas County resident, yet our legislators still want more -- they want to be paid for the sick pay that they haven't earned and really don't deserve.
A representative by definition represents the wishes and best interests of the people in his district. I fail to see how the current Madison gravy train serves the best interests of the public and have yet to find one soul who thinks that Assembly representatives and senators are under compensated or deserving of a sick-pay benefit.
Gary Sherman, Bob Jauch, and Frank Boyle all need to decline the sick-pay to healthcare conversion and work toward legislation rescinding the benefit permanently.
-- Darrell Anderson,