I have nothing to say about this except to flag it as an early alert that the golden boy’s popularity back home might be in jeopardy. To my surprise, we’ve gotten half a dozen e-mails from Louisianans since the creationist posts advising me that the big issue back home has nothing to do with evolution and everything to do with a pay raise the state legislature just voted for itself — something Jindal promised when he was running for governor last year that he’d oppose. It’s not just our readers either. Check Google News and you’ll find more coverage of the pay raise than the debate over intelligent design. Even the NYT is in on the action:
Conservative talk-radio show hosts and bloggers have denounced it, newspaper editorials have inveighed against it — The Times-Picayune of New Orleans called the increase “greedy” and its main proponent “shameless” — and the legislators themselves received floods of e-mail messages from angry constituents…
“This pay raise is devastating him,” said Moon Griffon, a conservative talk-radio host with a wide following in northern Louisiana, the most Republican and evangelical part of the state. “I’ve gotten over 5,000 e-mails from people who say they voted for him, and who say they would never vote for him again.”
Mr. Griffon added, “People don’t like hypocrisy, and they like somebody with guts.”
The legislative session ended Monday, and Mr. Jindal now has two weeks to veto the pay increase, though he has given no indication that he will do so…
“No matter where I go, they certainly are disappointed, and they are using some very unkind words related to his spine,” said Bernie Pinsonat, a pollster in Baton Rouge. “It’s pretty ferocious.” He added, “I’m quite positive his base is very upset with him.”
I can appreciate the pain of a broken campaign promise but there’s obviously some sort of regional divide here as to the nastiness of a legislative pay hike because we wouldn’t blink an eye at this sort of thing in New York. We’re not talking about some massive sum here: It’s a bump from $16,800 a year to $37,500, seemingly a drop in the bucket of even a poor state but evidently of huge import to voters. (There are 39 state senators and 105 representative, so the total hike should be just shy of $3 million per year.) Jindal’s spokesman claims he’s not going to veto it so as not antagonize the legislature into digging in against the rest of his reform agenda, but if this thing is leaking into national papers I wonder if he has any choice, simply as a way to preserve his popularity back home. As of this afternoon he still insists he won’t oppose it, although he’s ominously adopted the McCain-esque line that he’s “learned his lesson” and will keep closer tabs on this sort of thing going forward. Exit question: Yeah, he went back on his word but he’s doing a good job otherwise. What’s the big deal? What am I missing here?
Update (Ed): I’m a little mystified here myself. Minnesota state legislators get $31,000 per year for their part-time work. It seems to me that without paying the state legislators a decent wage, Louisiana risks having the only people in their legislature either be rich or able to manipulate their power to get there. That certainly was one argument about why the New Orleans PD had such endemic corruption; their starting pay was around $6 per hour a few years ago, about what a security guard made.
Part of governing is compromise, and this doesn’t seem too egregious to me. I understand that Jindal had promised to keep pay raises off the table, but this is a good lesson to Jindal not to overpromise during the campaign. If Obama had learned that lesson, maybe he’d be a better candidate in this cycle.
Update: Louisianans strike back!
YIKES… I know about the Hotair-Jindal lovefest but geeze this is getting silly….
>Yeah, he went back on his word but he’s doing a good job otherwise. What’s the big deal? What am I missing here?
>Part of governing is compromise, and this doesn’t seem too egregious to me.
Over Doubling the pay and having it automagically raising forever (without another vote ever) doesn’t seem egregious???
OK what will qualify it for egregiousness? 3X? 6X? 10X?
What you don’t get is that the BASE pay is just that BASE pay. They also get a per diem for every day the lege is in session. Plus expenses… PLUS a full time staff…. Plus Plus Plus…
The average lege is already making about $36,000 a year BEFORE the pay raise. And before the other perks…. Which BTW is DEAD AT the national average.
Now they want to get paid $60K a year (almost double the national average) for a part time job…. and you “fiscal conservatives” don’t see the problem here???? No wonder the party is doomed.
and in case you have not been reading your comments Jindal HAS NOT been doing a good job otherwise. He’s pissed off his whole base.
Look- I worked on 3 of his campaigns. Never, Never, Never again.
You guys need to wake up and smell the coffee on this one.
These people have other jobs too! And they have expense accounts and can write a bunch of perks off and not to mention state retirement to go along with the other retirement from their original job. I would consider an increase in pay but it shouldn’t go into affect now…they should have to wait until the next election. I worked for a State Representative back in the early ’90’s. Their job is not hard! 2 months out of the year in session. Give me a break!
Also, they need to be held accountable. Show us what you did to help the state and the constituents, then we will vote to see if you deserve a pay raise.
I am off my soap box.
The issue you raised in your post is valid, the fact that if legislatures pay were better, more laypeople would run. The problem is that its a 100% increase!!! And it is to take effect immediately, whereas tax cuts will wait until 2010. Had they passed a more modest pay raise or made them active when the tax cuts will be activated OR made the tax cuts active when the pay raise took effect then there would not be a backlash.
Update:I’m glad you guys posted the responses from some of us here in La, but you’re still not getting the whole picture. People are ENRAGED. When they passed the bill, I was so mad on Monday night that I had to do something. I threw together a website (http://www.legewatch.com) to see if we couldn’t at least get a watchdog organization together. I didn’t really expect much response.
This is what they make, not $16k – http://www.legewatch.com/2008/06/debunking-the-pay-raise-lies/ – plus a nice benefits package including $700 – $1200 per month in health insurance benefits. They were already adequately paid for what is constitutionally a part time job – now they leap to one the highest paid legislatures in the country while we languish at the bottom of nearly every quality of life metric there is.
The response has been phenomenal – after three days I had to get a volunteer to act as a spokesperson and he’s been making the rounds of TV and radio shows all over the state. Hundreds of people signed up, we’ve got a rally planned – and if you want pics/video when that happens I’ll be glad to report on it for you – on July 7. I’ve got people upstate chartering BUSES to come down for the rally. This is huge, and very similar to what happened in Pennsylvania in 2005 – in fact we’re modeling our campaign after that one. We’re filming a TV spot on Tuesday. Basically we’ve gone from 0 to 200 mph in the last 6 days. I can’t tell you how big this is, in Louisiana politics. Recall campaigns are starting up statewide; I’m helping the various groups to coordinate and have a workable, effective plan. And I’m not a political operative or anything like that – this really is grassroots.
As for Jindal doing a good job otherwise … I’m a long time supporter of his, and I can tell you he’s been a real disappointment. He let us down with his sham ethics reform and a whole lot more. We want Bobby to tighten up and be the guy we supported in the campaign – and the only way I know to make that happen is to get the facts out.