Printed on: January 08, 2013

Well compensated


Received Jan. 2

Dec. 27, Clark Corbin wrote of sacrifices that state lawmakers make, "Price of politics." Legislators do balance professional, political and personal parts of their lives. At times, these are sacrifices they make. Being a politician is a choice. Their compensation should not be considered part of that sacrifice.

A salary of $16,116 for state legislators is paid for a legislative session, which for the 2010 (Jan. 11 to March 29) was 68 days, 2011 (Jan. 10 to April 7) was 76 days, and 2012 (Jan. 9 to March 19) was 66 days. This equals an average of $231/day or $28.86/hour based on an eight-hour day. This is higher than the average hourly wage for Idaho men ($20.76) and women ($15.62) as reported in the same issue of the Post Register.

However, Idaho legislators also get additional funds from the state to offset expenses incurred in order to attend legislative sessions. The base per diem available for meals and incidentals is $49 per day. This amount is raised to $122 per day for legislators whose primary residence is outside Ada County (>50 miles) and who maintains a second residence in Ada County. Therefore, annual per diem payments to each Idaho legislator for 2010, 2011 and 2012 averages $8,392. This raises the average annual compensation per legislative session to $24,508, ($350/day or $43.76/hour).

Sources: Tom Frank, 9-23-2011, Benefits available to state legislators, USA Today.com and Molly Messick, June 25, 2012, stateimpact.npr.org. (Word count: 236)

Carolyn K. Abbott

Idaho Falls