Minimum wage for legislators

States should provide fair compensation for elected officials.

Ronald Dixon

Across the U.S., every state has some sort of legislature. Although the names vary, they all achieve similar goals: crafting laws that serve the respective states.

Unfortunately, these elected officials are not all compensated at fair rates.

Some states pay legislators exorbitant salaries, such as California ($95,291) and Pennsylvania ($83,802), while others hardly compensate at all, such as New Hampshire ($200 for a two-year term).

Nothing should be done about those states that pay wages that far exceed living wages, but other states should use Minnesota as an example for providing fair compensation for their legislative public servants.

Minnesota pays a wage of $31,140, plus per diem expenses; other states should adopt a minimum wage of approximately $30,000 to cover the area’s cost of living. There are many reasons these state-wide reforms should be implemented.

First, it would increase the probability of middle- and lower-class Americans running for their legislative seats. When states pay lower wages, it only allows for wealthier residents to serve constituents. The rich already disproportionately represent the people, but by implementing this minimum wage, more members of the “99 percent” may serve in state legislatures.

Also, it should increase the quality of public servants. From a business perspective, higher-paying jobs often attract more qualified candidates. Prospective legislators that know of the meager pay may not even attempt to run for office because they must feed their families, but this minimum wage could enable higher-quality pools of candidates.

Finally, it would increase the incentive for state governments to implement full-time, professional legislators. By having state lawmakers put more time toward work, state governments would be more productive.

George Washington famously refused to accept a salary but was ultimately compensated for his costs of living. This way the presidency was not only for the wealthy. States that pay non-livable wages to elected officials should follow the advice of our oldest executive.