Georgia lawmakers strike down pay increases for themselves

The Georgia Senate has struck down a measure aimed at hiking salaries for members of the General Assembly as well as several other top state officials.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Valencia Seay, D-Riverdale, proposed raising salaries for Georgia elected officials including the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state school superintendent, and the commissioners of agriculture, insurance and labor.

Backers argued the salary increases for state lawmakers would open the General Assembly’s membership to average-earning Georgians and not just more wealthy and retired politicians.

Opponents shot down the measure on Monday’s annual Crossover Day in the General Assembly as less of a priority for lawmakers compared with impactful elections and criminal-justice bills still winding their way through the current legislative session.

The measure failed by a 20-33 vote with most Republican senators and one Democratic senator voting against it.

Under the bill, salaries would have been increased for most statewide positions. The secretary of state’s salary would have risen from about $123,000 to $147,000, and the attorney general’s income would have gone from about $139,000 to $164,000.

The lieutenant governor also would have gotten a salary bump, climbing from about $92,000 to $135,000, according to the bill.

The salary for the speaker of Georgia’s House of Representatives, who is among the state’s most powerful elected officials, would have increased from $99,000 a year to $135,000.

State lawmakers in both chambers, meanwhile, would have earned a salary raise from roughly $17,000 a year to $29,908, marking a cushion aimed at giving more Georgians a chance to seek office and support themselves without financial stress.

A separate but largely identical measure in the House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, was scheduled for a vote Monday but did not receive consideration, likely signaling it is dead for the year.

That measure’s chances to advance in the legislature plummeted after the Senate’s vote to scuttle Seay’s bill, despite the pay raises being endorsed by House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

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