Open Letter to Governor Ducey: Legislators’ Pay Raise

Dear Governor Ducey,

On May 27, 2019 the Arizona Legislature passed and transmitted SB1558 to your office and then adjourned Sine Die not long thereafter at 12:58 a.m. on May 28, 2019.

As you are no doubt aware, through SB1558 legislators are TRIPLING their per diem compensation from $30/day to $92.50/day for those within Maricopa County; from $60/day to $185/day for those outside Maricopa (Capital Times – May 27, 2019). If applied to what we know about this session the per diem would increase from $4.3K to $11.8K for Maricopa legislators and from $7.5K to $23.6 for those outside.

Legislators’ salary increases are supposed to be referred to the voters for approval and a “per diem” is defined as a daily expense allowance. Certainly, one can understand the hardships and expenses that are incurred by legislators who must travel to and stay in Phoenix, away from their families, from all corners the state during the session. It certainly is appropriate to reimburse them for such expenses – either by a fair flat rate per diem or for actual expenses (with a reasonable cap). A tripling of the “expense allowance” for Maricopa legislators who can go home to their own families, dinner tables and beds every night; for what amounts to no more than a routine commute and expenses that they are not incurring seems unjustified at best.

 

If per diem is really just a backdoor way for legislators to do an end run around the taxpayers and give themselves a huge increase in their compensation that the voters have not, or are not, otherwise willing to approve then at the very least they should be honest about it and not do it through legislation passed in the dark of night on their way out the door.

SB1558 has now been on your desk since May 27th awaiting your signature, veto or no action making it law within 10 days.

Mr. Governor, if you agree with the legislators; giving themselves such an extravagant increase under such circumstances then, by all means stand with the legislators and sign the bill. If you don’t believe this is either a forthright way to increase their compensation, or a reasonable amount, then stand with the taxpayers and veto the bill.

This is a very controversial issue – at least for those who are aware of it – which needs leadership that is willing to make a strong statement one way or the other – supporting or opposing. But to do nothing and allow it to go into effect without a signature is a disservice to every taxpayer of Arizona who will have to foot the bill for what amounts to a very significant increase; certainly more than the average taxpayer can expect or will receive and absolutely never be able to grant themselves. The taxpayers of Arizona deserve better than that from all their elected representatives.

 

About Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction 2015-2018 15 Articles
Diane Douglas is an American politician and educator expert, who served as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2015-2019. She was elected on November 4, 2014. Douglas succeeded then-incumbent John Huppenthal, whom she defeated for the party's nomination in the Republican primary on August 26, 2014.