The Legislature Thinks it Needs a Pay Raise

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

If a guy or gal won’t sacrifice a few bucks to serve his or her fellow citizens in elected office, they’re probably not worthy of serving.

That observation is pretty idealistic to be sure, but is there anything really wrong with that?

That thought is relevant in light of plans moving along to grant the 120 members of the state Legislature a whopping annual pay increase – from $49,000 to $82,000.

The raise would not take effect until 2026 and other offices – including the governor – would also benefit.

But let’s stick with the Legislature and the reason presented by Sen. Richard Codey why a raise is needed.

Codey, who is leaving office when his current term officially ends at noon on Tuesday, says pay must go up to attract and retain talented people.

In response, consider the lead sentence of this article.

Furthermore, as critics of the proposed pay increase pointed out on Monday, there never seems to be a shortage of individuals wanting to serve in the state Assembly and Senate.

“We don’t need this (pay raise) to attract talent,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber, a Republican from Morris Plains.

That’s not a bad point. How many of the state’s 40 legislative districts are unfilled because nobody wants to run?

It is true, of course, that lawmakers need to get paid. And on all levels of government, it’s tough – politically that is – for elected officials to up their own pay.

At the same time, there seems to be a right way to do this and a poor way to do it.

What is happening in Trenton seems to be the poor way.

Like many bills of this type, the pay raise initiative is being done in the “lame duck” session, meaning that some of those voting for it are leaving office. In fairness, that means they won’t be around to benefit.

But what seems more galling to critics than the timing is the magnitude of the raise. Going from $49,000 to $82,000 is quite a jump. Why not go up to $55,000 or $60,000?

Nor should it be forgotten that this is technically a part-time job. It is understood that many conscientious legislators devote many hours a week to the job, but make no mistake, a lot of what politicians do falls into the category of fun. The reference is to the many cocktail parties and other social events that are a big part of the political circuit. (I know, I go to a lot of them).

In unsuccessfully arguing against the pay raise, Republicans said state residents already are dealing with inflation and living in a high-cost state.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen, another Morris County Republican, said lawmakers simply do not deserve a raise. He said they do not normally work as hard as most of the mayors in the state, many of whom get a stipend, if that.

Webber said voting in a pay increase will increase public cynicism about state government.

Two somewhat contradictory points need to be made.

One is that public cynicism about state government is quite high already.

The other point is that it doesn’t matter. People may be cynical and dismissive about the goings-on in Trenton, but that doesn’t mean they will run to the ballot box to make a statement.

Those who don’t see that should look at the just-concluded legislative election. Only 27 percent of registered voters bothered. Ugh.

The pay raise in the Assembly was approved in a 46-26 vote.

The Senate spent an inordinate amount of time paying tribute to departing Senators.  This is all part of the game, one supposes.

It finally got around to approving the pay raise bill just after 6 p.m by a vote of 26 to 7.

As noted, the pay increase, assuming it gets signed by the governor, will take effect in 2026.

Webber, for his part, said he will donate the extra money to a worthy cause.

How many of the other “no” votes will do that?




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5 responses to “The Legislature Thinks it Needs a Pay Raise”

  1. Going from $49,000 to $82,000 for a part time job!! Even the current $49,000 is excessive for a part time job. This is just despicable.

    These people should spend time in the private sector where the 9-5 job is realistically 12-14 hour days.

    These people could also work on some trades and see what hard work is performed for much less pay.

    And as for donating the extra pay I hope InsiderNJ reporters follow up to confirm. It would be interesting to see if the promises are kept.

  2. LOL! Most of the legislators have well-paying full-time careers! A pay raise during inflation?! Only in New Jersey, just like another increase in the minimum wage! Economic ILLITERATES!

  3. New Jersey and You–Corrupt Together!!!!! This is why NJ is the leading state when it comes to emigration to other low or no tax states that have significant liberties and much less regulations and restrictions. Many of these low tax, liberty-loving states aren’t “sanctuary states” for illegals (that costs NJ taxpayers $4 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY for free healthcare, free education, free legal services, free welfare, free housing, free cash ($6,000 per month), etc.

    As for Fred Snowflake’s point that we don’t vote, why vote when the election is already fixed for the Democrats for the past 25-30 years, either through computer voting manipulation, ballot stuffing, illegal ballots being counted, finding ballots after the election count is over, etc. New Jerseyans are not stupid. They can smell a corrupt government easily. That’s why a lot of them no longer vote. Instead, they’re voting with their feet and leaving the state in droves.

    If the Legislature thinks it needs a pay raise, then NJ taxpayers think it needs to commence a TAX STRIKE!!!! Let’s put the corrupt State “Government” out of business once and for all.

  4. Several articles on this pay raise cite that $49,000 in 2002 is now worth $86,000. I don’t know what amount of a raise would be legitimate, but I am quite sure ANY of the legislators would serve for free for all the undisclosed benefits that come with job. I wonder what amount regular workers such as municipal employees, bank tellers, electricians, plumbers, schoolteachers, gas station attendants, farm workers and others have received since 2002 in raises to keep up with the normal inflationary costs over time. It doesn’t seem that any legislative entity has earned their pay for a long time.

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