March 11, 2005
"In Birmingham they love the Governor"

Actually, it's the Senate Finance Committee that's showing the love.

A Senate panel quietly approved a raise of more than 30 percent for the governor and other statewide elected officials Thursday, saying that those officials don't make enough for the "size and scope" of their responsibilities.

Gov. Rick Perry's response: Thanks, but no thanks.

"The governor has made his feelings about this quite plain to both the Senate and the House," said spokesman Robert Black. "He has no desire for a pay increase. He certainly does not see a need for a statewide pay increase for elected officials."

He would not say, though, whether Mr. Perry would use a line-item veto to strike the raises or refuse to take the money if the Legislature approves it anyway.

"We're not going to speculate on what might come to his desk," Mr. Black said.

As In the Pink puts it, "[W]hen the time comes, and the pay raise is sitting on the Govís desk with the rest of the bills he feels like vetoing on a whim, who knows HOW heíll feel."

The provision, added to an appropriations bill in the Senate Finance Committee, comes as lawmakers are wrangling over the first raises for teachers in years. State employees are set to receive 4.5 percent raises each of the next two years.

"I had a better year than he did." -- Babe Ruth's response to a reporter who noted that he made more money than President Coolidge.

The vote was unanimous, but only a bare majority of the committee's members were present at the early-morning meeting.

"They're entitled to that level of compensation," said committee chairman Steve Ogden, the Bryan Republican who sponsored the measure. "Like anything else in state government, you get what you pay for."

Sigh...the joke is left as an exercise for the reader.

Thankfully, saner heads may yet prevail.

The raises, although deserved, should not be a priority with so many budget needs, said Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, a member of the Finance Committee.

Raises for agency heads reach up to $50,000 in some cases, she said, and the Senate seems to be "spending money without knowing exactly where it's going to come from."

"I have great appreciation for all our statewide officeholders, but that's not the way to do business," said Ms. Nelson, who was not informed of the vote on the raise and was out of the room when it came up. "My first question is, how much of a pay raise are our teachers going to get?"


Though the raise may make it through the Senate, it could have some trouble in the House when that chamber's Appropriations Committee takes it up later in the session.

"Outrageous, that's what I would say," said Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, vice chairman of that panel. "We have a shortage in the budget. I couldn't support that."

Putting it another way, I believe both of them are saying "Do you really want to write every Democrats' campaign slogan for 2006?" Hey, wait a minute, maybe that raise isn't such a bad idea after all. Go for it, Steve!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 11, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack