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Oregon lawmakers propose major pay raise for themselves in the name of increasing diversity

Is that really the motive?

Oregaon state Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D) (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Oregon state legislators proposed a significant pay raise for themselves, claiming that the motive behind the raise is to attract better candidates and increase diversity, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

State lawmakers in Oregon currently earn $31,200 per year and get $149 per day additionally while the Legislature is in session.

"This is not a get-rich-quick scheme down here," Oregon state Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D) said. "This is public service. But if it gets to the point where you can't feed your family, that's where the problem is."

How would this work?

Burdick and other lawmakers proposed a bill to increase their own salaries by more than 60 percent.

Under the bill, salaries would increase to about $50,000 per year. When considering the per diem and allowances they get when the Legislature is in session, a state lawmaker under the new salary structure could earn as much as $75,000 per year.

Republican state Sen. Fred Girod, who supports the pay increase, acknowledged to Oregon Public Broadcasting that some will view the bill as a money grab.

"It's a tough vote to make, because people are going to jump to the conclusion you're trying to pad your own pocket," Girod said. "Like I said, I don't need the money, but there are people that will make that accusation."

Who do they want to attract?

Proponents of the bill say that the current low salary means that often only older people more established in their careers or who have retired feel they can run for office. They want to attract qualified candidates who are younger.

"Trying to recruit someone of caliber to serve in these chambers with the pay that we're getting currently just is a very difficult choice," Girod said. "I'm a retired dentist, and I've done well in life, but when you go to tell someone, 'We want you to serve, but your base pay is going to be around $2,000 a month,' that's pretty tough sledding."

(H/T The Hill)

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